I used to think that when Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, it was just His fancy way of saying how to get to Heaven. But after reading Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity and doing my own research, I now understand that Jesus wasn't just talking about going to Heaven when we die [1], but about God's plan to restore this world. It's God's will being done on Earth as it is in Heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

It's the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. (Revelation 21:2)

It's a kingdom that is so counter-cultural to the ways of this world that the Kingdom can be best described as "upside-down" [2].

The kingdoms of this world teach us that in order to come out on top you have to use force, you have to be brutal, and you must utterly destroy your enemies. The rich and powerful are the greatest, and the poor and downtrodden are the least. It's survival of the fittest, and if you're not the fittest, well then you're just crap outta luck.

But not in God's Kingdom.

In the Kingdom of God, the poor are rich, the meek inherit the earth, and the peacemakers are called God's children (Matthew 5:3-12). In this Kingdom, wisdom is revealed to children (Luke 10:21), and servants are leaders (Luke 9:46-48). And instead of establishing His Kingdom through force, Jesus did it through a humiliating death.

Most people think Jesus came just to save us from Hell [3]. But in reality it's much bigger than that; Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God, where He puts everything in its right place again.

[1] I should point out that I do believe that the saved go to be with God after they die, but I don't believe it's the final destination . . . the resurrection is the final destination! More on this later.

[2] If I'm not mistaken, it was Donald B. Kraybill who originally coined the phrase "Upside-Down Kingdom."

[3] Once again, I need to point out that I'm not denying that there are serious consequences for rejecting Jesus. I'm just saying Christianity is more than just a "Get out of Hell free" card.

By Travis Mamone

Travis Mamone considers himself a "Converse All-Star wearing, indie folk listening, always questioning, book loving, coffee addicted, emerging Christian freelance writer."  He is a co-host of the podcast Something Beautiful , and blogs here.