I’ve written a lot about how inspired I am by the life and teaching of John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard movement. The Kingdom of God was the most central concept in his theology, just as it also was the most central concept in the teachings of Jesus. And what Wimber showed quite clearly was that the Kingdom cannot by any means be separated from signs and wonders.
The reason for this is that miracles manifest power. When God does impossible things like raising the dead or multiplying food, it becomes evident that He is an almighty King, and that He alone can save us from sin and death. Therefore, it is not surprising that the gospels tell us how Jesus and the disciples preached about the Kingdom and healed the sick at the same time (Mt 4:23, Lk 9:2). “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” (1 Cor 4:20)
Wimber’s teaching got a huge impact. The Kingdom of God is central not only in the Vineyard but also in other Charismatic movements like New Wine, Bethel Church and Global Awakening. However, I’m afraid that they have missed a very important aspect of the Kingdom that is quite evident in the Scriptures. The Kingdom of God is of course also a political term, with political consequences in our lives.
People like Shane Claiborne, Greg Boyd, John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas have explored the politics of the Kingdom. As Christians, we are strangers on earth (Hebr 11:13) but citizens in Heaven (Phil 3:20), we acknowledge that Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, and we obey him rather than men. He Himself said that His Kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36) – if it were, His disciples would have fight to rescue Him from the cross, but His Kingdom is different, it doesn’t conquer through violence but through sacrifice.
This thinking is widely accepted among Christian activists and pacifists. However, they rarely talk about the supernatural dimension of the Kingdom like Wimber did. Here’s what I think: both of these aspects of the Kingdom are not only equally true, but they are dependent upon one another. Since the Kingdom is supernatural, it is not of this world. When miracles manifest the power of God, we realize that He is more powerful than earthly politicians. When God heals the sick and casts out demons, His will is performed on earth as it is in Heaven – in other words, His political decisions are being executed.
Do you see even more connections, or am I completely wrong? Write a comment below to share your thoughts!
I think that you are right on. John Wimber is a wonderful teacher of God’s love and power for His people. I am continually blessed by his books.
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