The City Winter 2011
The City Winter 2011 edition, a publication of Houston Baptist University.
THE CITY Part of this is a fault of our ears. We mishear the kingdom of God in distinctly political terms, as having to do with a distant, overreach‐ ing coercive power. But the world into which the Bible spoke was one where kingship was tied more closely with tribe, family, and land. The kingdom of God is not a military or fascist dictatorship. In‐ stead, the kingdom of God is an economy, in the right sense of the word. The roots of the world “economy” are found in the idea of “household.” An economy is an ordering, a managing of resources by members of a common household. Think of the kind of labor for the common good that one would see in a family. A father and a mother work to feed the children, while a son mows the grass and a daughter takes out the garbage and so forth. When we say that humanity is head over the creation, we shouldn’t see that in terms of a modern corporate technocratic structure of “management” and “labor,” and we certainly shouldn’t see it in terms of “dictator” and “slave.” Instead we should see it in bodily and family terms—the relationship, for instance, between a person’s head and the rest of his body. This is a beautiful expression of organic unity, of common purpose. In the mystery of the kingdom, Christ is said to be “head” over his church. This is not raw power or grasping rapaciousness. Instead, Christ’s headship is seen in his self‐sacrificial giving up of his life for his church, his washing her with water (Eph. 5:25‐30). T he dominion over the creation, then, is less about power than about responsibility. Who is accountable for the best interest of the creation itself, in picturing and making visible the rule of God? This responsibility is godlike, rather than satanic, in character. And since it is based on the Fatherhood of God, it, like God’s Father‐ hood, is directed away from self and toward the other. The human kingdom then is about servanthood and stewardship, not dictator‐ ship. From the very beginning, the “subduing” that God commands is not subjugation but cultivation and protection. The man and the woman manage the animal order and the land as gifts of God and signs of his presence, not as raw “resources” for their arbitrary will. Dominion is not the power of the jackboot, but the grace of the out‐ stretched hand. This dominion and cultivation is in service of the creation and of the generations to come. God spoke of this kingship in terms of those 10