The Kingdom Circles
The kingdom circles are a great way to begin a spiritual conversation. They are not intended to be a gospel presentation, but can help us determine if our friend is a person of peace and provide a framework so we can talk about things that really matter. Many need this framework considering how easy it is to get sidetracked on politics or minor points of theology. For example, some will argue about whether God provided a ram or a lamb in place of Abraham’s son, which seems so small of a point we need a microscope just to find it. John 4:11-12 records the woman at the well asking Jesus several questions about side issues, but Jesus simply directs her to what really matters. Likewise, the kingdom circles help us focus on the big picture so we can present Jesus as soon as possible. As we saw in John 4, we may even find someone longing for such a conversation!
Within this framework there are several other purposes we want to accomplish at this point.
1) Clarify the main message of Jesus: the kingdom of God.
A great question for many Muslims, and, sadly, for many Christians as well is “What do you think is the primary message of Jesus?” Most Christians will give a variety of answers, but even a shallow reading of the gospels reveal Jesus talked more about the kingdom of God than anything else. He spoke about it more than eighty times and frequently taught parables to explain it. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus teaches us to “seek first the kingdom of God”, but, unfortunately, few seem to give it the priority it deserves.
Many Christians believe God’s kingdom (also called “the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew) is a distant reference to heaven or possibly a political kingdom to be established here on earth. However, neither could be further from the truth. The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God or the manifestation of God as king. Heaven itself is the best example of a realm perfectly aligned with God’s will. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:10 that we should pray this heavenly existence into reality on earth, or that the whole world would come under the submission to God. Seeing God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven is to see men and women willfully place themselves under God’s authority through the work of Christ.
We see a great example of this in the Garden of Eden before the fall of man. Everything was as God ordered it, and it was good! We also see examples in the nation of Israel. When Israel obeyed the Lord He did incredible things in and through them, but when they resisted the rule of God the nation, like the garden, fell apart. In the same way, Jesus announced the kingdom “is at hand”, or personally available to each one of us, and then demonstrated what this kingdom was like through his various miracles and healings. It’s an offer to let God bring new life and joy by allowing him to lead and reorder everything to his standard. It’s the difference between following God to the promise land and continuing to live in the wilderness as a Bedouin.
The coming of this kingdom was most dramatically fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus. No longer does one need to follow the law and all it’s ceremonial cleansing, but through Christ we can be made right before God and enter God’s kingdom as new creations. Jesus said in John 3:3 “unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God.” The immediate availability of this kingdom is good news indeed, which is why Jesus referred to it as “the good news of the kingdom” in Matthew 24:14.
The majority of Muslims today understand the concept of how kingdoms operate better than most westerners do, so using kingdom language it very relevant to them. Considering many of our friends are sincerely seeking God, beginning a spiritual conversation based on the kingdom can help us speak directly to the deepest longings of their heart.