The Upside-Down Kingdom

The Upside-Down Kingdom
by Donald B. Kraybill, Herald Press, 2011.
Find this book here.

In this book, Kraybill focuses on the teachings of Jesus and the coming of His kingdom. Compared to worldly kingdoms, however, this one is completely different and upside-down. It doesn’t follow the same ideas about what a kingdom should look like. The kingdom of Christ is centred on the ministry of Jesus which saw him as a servant, not a tyrant.

Jesus not only goes against culture, He also goes against the legalism of religion. He denounced what religion had become and sought to change it. Those who were most devoted to the religious and government institutions of Jesus’ day sought to kill Him.

Kraybill focuses on many of the famous lines of Jesus to show the upside-down nature of His kingdom. The first shall be last, we must be like children, and blessed are the poor, are some examples. Since Jesus focused so much of His teaching on greed and wealth, so does Kraybill, offering practical applications to living in God’s kingdom.

Throughout this book, Kraybill make us aware of detours that get in the way of the building of Jesus’ kingdom. These detours are ones set up by our culture as well as ones found in the tradition and institutions of Christianity.

This is the kind of book that not only made me think, but made me want to test alternative ways of living; ways that line up more closely with the teachings of Jesus. I wonder how it is that certain books become classics. If I could choose, this would be one. It is definitely one that needs to be read over and over.

Notable Quotes:

“‘The Kingdom is something people enter, not something that enters them. It is a state of affairs, not a state of mind.’” (p.18)

“The Kingdom of God threads throughout the fabric of Jesus’ teaching and ministry.” (p.19)

“Jesus did threaten the status quo. He rocked the cozy boats of Sadducees, Pharisees, Romans and rebels alike. In some ways he looked like other insurrectionists of his day. But his revolution was upside-down. It touted acts of compassion, not daggers. Love was the new Torah, the standard of his upside-down kingdom.” (p.55)

“When the values of Jesus’ upside-down kingdom become our bread of life, the economic institutions of society lose their grip.” (p.82)

“We are called to practice nonviolence in all areas of life not because it is always effective, but because it witnesses to the love and character of God.” (p.191)

“The task of rebuilding the church is a new and urgent mandate for every generation.” (p.253)