I remember watching Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome for the first time at the age of seven and being totally freaked out. If that is what the future will look like then I do not want to keep living. Nuclear holocaust, anarchy, and limited resources are definitely not great motivators for long-term planning. Most of us have an idea of the future. We have seen many movies where the future is a place where things have grown decidedly dark and worse than they are now. There have also been films where everything seems perfect in our future society, except that there’s really a catch. Films like Demolition Man or Minority Report depict a human made utopia but there is always something that makes happily-ever-after not so happy. Either people are too strict or controlling or someone is oppressed in order for everyone else to have perfect lives. The funny thing about these movies is that they not only portray the future, but they also tell us something about the present. As much as we would desire a certain political party or a particular way of life—urban, suburban, green, liberal, conservative—to be the status quo, there is always a catch. Someone is always coming out with the short end of the stick and not everyone will be a part of the status quo. One thing that these films about the future and our present aspirations tell us is that we all long for a time and a place where everything will be put right. We all long for the day when there will be no more sickness and war, disease and death. We all long for a day, as Bono from U2 sings, when “All the colors will bleed into one.” That is what the Bible is talking about by the phrase “the kingdom of God.”
This “kingdom” is the rule and reign of God; the extension of himself on earth. The kingdom of God captures the future reality when all things will be put right and connects it to our present aspirations. In other words it is both a future and present reality. It is now and not yet. It is the new beginning in the midst of the old. When Christians use the term “kingdom” they are not talking about a magical place in a fantasy world like Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The “kingdom” is what God has begun to do by transforming lives spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. That’s the now part but there is more. There is also a not yet. Even though the kingdom has been inaugurated and we see people’s lives being changed, we still wait for its completion. We still see the evils of the world doing their damage on a global and a local scale. The not yet aspect of the kingdom of God promises that there will be a time when the evils of this world will cease; a time when God will turn this upside down world right side up. It will be a time when there will be no war, no sickness, no famine, no oppression, no poverty. In short, God will create a new heaven and a new earth where he will rule and reign. You can’t go wrong with that.