I grew up in another Protestant denomination and became a United Methodist when I married Ben.
Except for communion not being passed up and down the pews, I saw little difference. You sing a little, you pray a little, you have a sermon and then you go home, right? But the longer I remained, the more I noticed a really big difference—the idea of kingdom. As a kid, I thought that kingdom was the same thing as heaven. The whole idea was to avoid sin and make it to heaven when I died—kind of like an eternal fire insurance policy.
United Methodists talk about the kingdom a lot because Jesus talked about the kingdom a lot.
In fact, in the New Testament the idea Jesus talked about more than any other was kingdom. Here are just a few examples:
Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues proclaiming the good news of the kingdom… Matt. 4:23
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:20 Jesus answered, “…no one can enter the kingdom unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5
As Brandon Hatmaker explains in his new book, A Mile Wide,
“The…kingdom goes beyond a…dream; it’s also a glimpse into what God has in mind for today. It’s a kingdom yet to arrive, but also a kingdom now.
…the kingdom of God is not the destination at the top of the ladder we climb.
Rather, it’s a realm that appears when we choose to engage. Any moment we choose God’s way over our way, the kingdom breaks through. Whenever Jesus rules our day in any way, the kingdom breaks through…. Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, in that moment Jesus reigns in your life, and the kingdom is at hand.”
This means that today matters. Your life—your pain, your growth, your mistakes, your sacrifices, your successes, and your transformation—are important. The kingdom has already happened and is happening—we just need to respond “on earth as it is in heaven”.