Kingdom Living: What Does Living the “Good Life” Mean from the Perspective of the Tanakh?

Kingdom Living
By Chester DeLagneau
June 7, 2015

OLD TESTAMENT

Kingdom Ethics
There is only one true kingdom and that is the kingdom of God. Christ came and inaugurated the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is paradoxically both here and not yet. That is, the kingdom has been activated but not fully actualized. Complete actualization will commence at the Second Coming of Christ. What this means is that the church is part of the kingdom today. The church is not the kingdom and the kingdom is not the church. The church is in the kingdom but there is so much more to the kingdom than just the body of believers. Think of the kingdom as being ALL of God’s creation. Then, generally speaking, what is the role of the church in the kingdom? The purpose of the church is the salvation and restoration of God’s creation. This salvation extends to ALL people. This restoration extends to ALL facets of creation, including politics, medicine, education, philosophy, economics, etc. There is no facet of the world that God does not want to heal, restore, or bless. This restoration process entails discipling nations! George Kouri writes concerning the Great Commission: “Disciple the nations! Bring them under His government, His discipline, the righteous judgment of God’s King. Not just some—but all! Not merely evangelizing every racial or ethnic group in the world, but bringing the moral and spiritual government of God to every political and geographical entity on Earth until all the nations have learned Christ.”

So what should kingdom living look like vis-à-vis the church “bringing the moral and spiritual government of God to every political and geographical entity on Earth?” And which ethic enables the church to best bring this about?
The Bible has a lot to say about both duty and desire. But how are we to reconcile duty-based ethics with virtue-based ethics?

In the Old Testament or Tanakh (an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim) God used a standard conduct to adjudicate a righteous king, who was faithful to Torah, from a wicked king. This ethical standard—the Yahweh criteria—was also used to judge nations.

In the Tanakh we see the Yahweh criteria of humility, peace (shalom), joy, happiness, righteousness, and justice.
• In Torah, the Decalogue (10 Commandments) and Covenant Blessings (e.g., Lev 26:1-13; Dt 5:29, 33; 6:18, 24, 25; 7:12-15; 8:1), we see God commanding His people to keep His statues in order that they would prosper, flourish and be happy. In classical Greek the word for objective happiness that connotes wellbeing and prosperity is eudaimonia, which is associated with living the good life. As an ethic it is called Ethical Eudaimonism. This is the ethic I am prescribing to you today.

• In Nevi’im (e.g., Joshua, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah), we see the Yahweh criteria of strength and courage, as well as justice and righteousness that accompanies living the good life.

• In Ketuvim (e.g. Proverbs and Psalms), we also see Yahweh criteria of justice and righteousness, as well as joy and faithful love at the core of God’s kingdom.

So what should kingdom living look like vis-à-vis the church “bringing the moral and spiritual government of God to every political and geographical entity on Earth” from the perspective of the Tanakh? And which ethic enables the church to best bring this about?

The kingdom of God necessitates transformation. But before the church can transform the world it must first be transformed. The world is splashing around in a shallow pool of pleasures and desires, which reeks of moral relativism, while the church is drowning in a pious sludge of dutiful service, which reeks of moral legalism. What the world needs is a taste of duty, and the church–a spoonful of desire. But each one needs the right kind of duty and the right kind of desire. The world needs a bit of self-sacrifice and the church needs a dose of desiring the right virtues, not just long-suffering or patience but shalom or objective happiness. The mistake the church has made has been to seek to change the world—its laws and politics—without first being spiritually and morally transformed by righteousness or living and thriving in a state of right relationship with each other. So what should kingdom living look like from the perspective of the Tanakh?

Picture the church, including church government, exemplifying an inseparably connected duty-based and virtue-based ethic for all the world to see, including its socio-politico-economic structures. This balanced living between duty-and-virtue and duty-and-desire enables the church as the body of Christ to reflect the glory of God by “bringing the moral and spiritual government of God to every political and geographical entity on Earth.”

And now picture Ethical Eudaimonism as the best ethic to accomplish this goal. Ethical Eudaimonism upholds the commands of God and sees them as being the best way to fulfill our nature as children of God. When we are fulfilled and live as God intended us enjoying biblical virtues, such as righteousness and justice, as well as strength and courage, we embody shalom (peace, prosperity, wellbeing, happiness, blessedness, and security). And when we are blessed or happy because we desire reconciliation and unity with each other, which is expressed by living in a state of right relationships, we can say with absolute confidence that we are living the good life even in the midst of a fallen world saturated with sin and suffering.

Categories: Devotionals

Chester Delagneau


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