There are two kingdom-building agendas.
The world has a kingdom-building agenda. Items on the agenda include things that naturally impress man: loudness, outward displays of power, proud self-reliance, and leaving behind grand buildings as visible reminders of each fading epoch.
This sort of kingdom is established by military conquest and colonization. The sounds of kingdom-building begin with bombs, then bulldozers, then marching bands in patriotic parades. This kingdom runs its course, then the cycle is repeated with new rulers with new rules—and usually a new language.
God also has a kingdom-building agenda. Characteristics of His kingdom-building agenda include the things of which He takes special notice: awe and silence before Him (Ps 33:8; Hab 2:20), inward spiritual strength (2 Cor 12:9–10), humility (Isa 66:2), and faith (Matt 8:10).
The King was questioned by men who thought that the inauguration of God’s kingdom would be accompanied by political pomp or military pageantry: “Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He [i.e., Jesus] answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or, “There it is!” For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst’” (Luke 17:20–21).
Contrary to what we’ve come to expect, significance is neither indicated nor vindicated by stunning visuals or sound effects. The inauguration of the kingdom of God needed no such thing: it was inaugurated imperceptibly, it is growing without pomp, and it is progressing toward God’s divinely-directed goal according to His schedule. It will endure because it is built not by towering edifices, but by the salvation of everlasting souls through the proclamation of the “eternal gospel” (Rev 14:6). His “building” comprises “every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (Rev 14:6). God’s building is actually “God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:19–22; cp. 1 Cor 3:9; 2 Cor 5:1).
There is a diametrical contrast between the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God. The King Himself said, “That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). As the heavens are higher than the earth so are His ways above our ways (Isa 55:9).
The ephemeral kingdoms of the world are built by coercion and treachery. God’s everlasting kingdom is established by grace and truth. Don’t believe the hype: this world is passing away (1 John 2:15–17). But “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion is from generation to generation” (Dan 4:3).
Whitney Oxford is a graduate of The Expositors Seminary and serves as a lay leader at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, FL.