Jesus preached the gospel of God, declaring, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the gospel!” The Christians that heard this message would have understood the concept of gospel in relationship to Greco-Roman notions of an emperor’s ascension to the throne. Jonathan Pennington notes, “Undoubtedly Paul and the other early Christian missionaries were well aware that calling their message ‘gospel’ or ‘good news’ was not only something related to Judaism and Christianity but also simultaneously a political, worldview, and eschatological claim.”[1] Therefore, the proclamation and primary pursuit of the kingdom of God necessarily entails political and cultural engagement. As royal ambassadors, we are kindly declaring the ascension of Christ to the place of authority over all aspects of life in this present world. Any attempt to divorce the reality of the kingdom of God from the present and relegate it to a time merely in the future undermines the abiding authority of the risen Christ. Jesus’ own understanding of the kingdom of God assumes a reign of power and authority in the present that has significant implications for cultural and political engagement. All throughout the gospels, we find vivid demonstrations of Jesus’ authority and power in the seen and unseen realms of life. Whether it was the molecular transformation of water into wine, the sovereign exercise of power over demons, diseases, and death, or the audacity to forgive sinners, all of these examples declare, “The King is here, and He is active!” The multifarious realities of the eschaton have broken in on the present world through Jesus Christ the King.

How, then, should these realities impact our political and cultural engagement? First, the Kingdom should be regarded as primary. It is an end in itself, not a means to an end. His Kingdom come is the goal. Second, the Kingdom should be the foundation of our confidence and hope. Christ the King has won, is winning, and will win. Thus, our engagement is not marked by a defeatist frustration or anger, but by a sure and confident hope in Christ’s reconciling work in the world. Third, the Kingdom should direct the way we live. Our lives are to be oriented around our citizenship in the Kingdom. We must realize that how we think, speak, and act reveals much about our understanding of the Christ’s Kingdom. Lastly, the Kingdom should define our relationships within the community of Christ. While still maintaining theological integrity, we must realize that the Kingdom of Christ is broader than our particular local church or denomination. This mindset lays the groundwork for genuine cooperation among Christians to see the Kingdom advanced in Christ.

In summary, we involve ourselves in political and cultural engagement because there is “not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which the sovereign Christ does not cry, ‘Mine!’”[2] In other words, because Jesus reigns, we engage with kindness and conviction in obedience to Him.



[1] Jonathan T. Pennington, Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012), 6.

[2] Paraphrase of Abraham Kuyper