Stop trying to "build the Kingdom of God"!

Andy Rau

Dan Reid at the Addenda & Errata blog has had enough of Christians talking about "building God's Kingdom". He argues that this innocent-sounding phrase, used often by Christians who haven't thought through what it fully means, incorrectly suggests that it's our responsibility to bring about God's Kingdom through our actions:
Where exactly do we get the idea that we should be building God’s kingdom? We may witness to it, testify to it, plant signs of it or work or build for (the word for introduces a big difference, as Tom Wright points out) it, etc. But it’s God’s kingdom, and consequently God is the one who is “building” it. As in “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” (It’s a spiritual tonic to say those lines of the prayer with the emphasis just so). The best explanation for this mistaken Christian speech that I can come up with is that we’ve heard it said so often that we unthinkingly repeat it. [...]

If the kingdom is the dynamic reign of God, how can we as humans “build” it? Actually, it should come as a relief to realize that you and I aren’t in the business of building God’s kingdom. Almost, well, like good news!

Reid goes on to note that acts of Christian service should be understood as "signs and anticipations" of God's Kingdom--important actions, but they do not themselves constitute the Kingdom, which is God's alone to bring about.

My first reaction was that Reid was being nitpicky, but if you think about it, it's a pretty important distinction: is it our job to bring about God's Kingdom? Does that distinction change the way we go about doing acts of Christian service (and does it change the type of service we should focus on)?

(Besides, his post--like any blog post worth reading--uses the word "pelagianism." Here's Wikipedia's definition for those of us who are a bit rusty on our church history.)

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