Before going on to reflect on the restoration movement, I want to just say a little more about why I've called this blog 'Different Kingdom' (I also did a preaching series on this in our church about 18 months ago on the sermon on the mount, and called it 'A different kingdom.'). Actually this is relevant to what I've learned from restorationism.
Central to the message of restoration was the belief that God's kingdom was not just something we got into when we went to heaven, or in some future millennial age, but that the kingdom had already come, it was here and now, heaven had broken in upon earth when Jesus came. And that like a seed that grew secretly into a tree that eventually filled the world, or like yeast within dough, the influence of the kingdom was now permeating our world. This vision of a world transformed through God's good rule, of heaven coming to earth, has gripped me since I first heard it.
But now I wish that I had understood more about the nature of this kingdom earlier. It was very easy for such a positive view of God's kingdom filling the earth to become triumphalist and about wielding power and influence in exactly the same way as the world does. God's kingdom became just another 'empire' among the world's. We would 'get the victory over' Islam, communism, humanism etc. and 'take this land' for Jesus. We're on the winning side and the rest are just losers.
Over the last two years I feel I have started to come into a much deeper understanding of the counter-cultural nature of this kingdom - it is completely different from the empires of this world. And the ways of this kingdom are so totally and radically different from the ways of this world. At its heart is a cross; a slain lamb is on the throne. Because the ways of this kingdom are servanthood and sacrifice, of lives laid down, of turned cheeks, of loved enemies, of evil returned with good, of selfless love, of a life not taken but given, of the power of meekness and the strength of real humility. Really understanding this has begin to revolutionise my thinking. I still believe God's kingdom is going to fill the earth - but through a people who follow the way of its king, the way of selfless, serving, sacrificial love.