The kingdom is a new way of being
What the kingdom is not
There have been false ideas spread about the kingdom of God all the way back to Jesus’ days. Pilate wanted to know if Jesus was trying to build a political kingdom to rival Rome.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
In the centuries that followed, the Roman Catholic Church, which became the Holy Roman Empire, operated with the idea that the church was the successor to the Roman Empire, fulfilling the kingdom of God on earth. But a political empire is not the kind of kingdom Jesus came to build; for as He told Pilate:
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Yet the idea of a powerful political regime is always attractive to some and that thought gave rise to the doctrine of religious dominance over the state. There were times when the Pope selected government leaders and there were times that the government chose who was going to be Pope. That which was called the “church” became more of a powerful political and police force than a source of spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And as is true of most human institutions, power corrupts. The Dark Ages were a time when power-corrupt religious leaders created a religious society where they ruled both the church and the state and withheld the Word of God from the common people.
That is certainly not the kingdom of God that Jesus introduced. It was this corruption that led European colonists to America to try to create a society where the church did not control the state and the state did not dictate how to worship.