I vividly remember sitting in a Sunday School class many years ago with my husband as newlyweds. The topic of discussion was the kingdom of God. Somewhat hesitantly, we offered up the opinion that perhaps the kingdom was already here. We were readily dismissed by the older, wiser members of the class, including the teacher.
In Christian circles, I think that the kingdom is sometimes glossed over as just a vague religious idea, perhaps equated more often with thoughts of heaven and a future destination. However, the gospel that Jesus taught was not the gospel of salvation, but rather the gospel of the kingdom. That is why it is so important for us to understand the kingdom of God as more than just a vague concept.
Rick did a brilliant job of cracking a window open in order for those who read his book to catch a bigger vision and clearer picture of the kingdom of God. My absolute favorite chapter in the book is Chapter 5, “A Dimension of Being.” In this chapter, he describes the present reality of the kingdom and the need for us to develop the understanding and vision to recognize the kingdom around and among us.
In the latter half of the book, as the subtitle, “practicing the presence of the kingdom of God,” suggests, Rick then opens a door and issues an invitation to participate in the kingdom. He offers real and practical ways of encountering the kingdom of God, ways in which both individuals and communities can experience a lifestyle of kingdom living, of participating in God’s mission.
There are gems of wisdom and insight in each chapter as he explains what the kingdom might look like in different aspects of life including encountering the kingdom among children; ministering in the margins; the presence of the kingdom in creation; a kingdom perspective of wealth, giving, and money; and a look at suffering and our own willingness to enter into sacrifice and suffering.
Throughout the book, Rick has painted a picture of the kingdom of God, the kingdom established when Jesus chose to enter into This Beautiful Mess and the invitation for us to do likewise, to participate in his kingdom by immersing our lives in This Beautiful Mess.
Rick doesn’t coerce or manipulate in his writing. His invitation to practice the kingdom is gentle. However, if taken seriously, your life will be challenged and changed.