Someone quite angrily and rudely insisted to me that the "kingdom of God" is not now at all because it is only when Jesus comes and rules. So, I thought I'd write a little about my thoughts on "when" the kingdom of God is. I don't have many answers, so most of the time I'll just quote Jesus. :-)
Certainly, in the Bible there is a future sense in which the "kingdom of God" is used. Jesus talks of the 12 disciples sitting on 12 thrones. He talks of a big feast in the kingdom. These, and many other aspects of the kingdom, are obviously yet to come.
But there is also a present aspect of the kingdom of God. There is a sense in which it has begun already. Even as Luke 17:20-21 hints at (quoted above).
John the baptist hinted that the time was very near when he said, "The time has come, the kingdom of God is near; repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). It was so near that Jesus could say, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9:1).
Jesus told many parables about the kingdom of God. One of them is as follows:
Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 28 "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 29 "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" (Matt 13:24-30 )
He explained the parable a few verses later:
He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." (Matt 13:37-43)
Please notice the present and future senses of the kingdom of God in the words of Jesus. The good seed is being sown and there are present-tense "sons of the kingdom". There are weeds, an enemy, and a looking forward to the harvest. Notice that when the harvest, or end of the age, comes the kingdom is already there. Yet, there is still a future shining like the sun in the kingdom. But there is a kingdom already established and the angels are sent to weed out all who do evil out of it. Obviously, we are in the "phase" of the kingdom where there is a lot of sowing of seed. The enemy is lurking. We are looking forward to the harvest.
Hopefully it is clear what I'm trying to say. This blog has been emphasizing the present sense of the kingdom. Even as Paul wrote that we are already in the kingdom: "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves" (Col 1:13).
Well, there is much more to say, but hopefully everyone will get my point. And actually, what I am trying to write about on this blog isn't some theological treatise about what exactly the kingdom of God is and isn't and when and how.... There is MUCH that I don't understand. What I am trying to write about is how Christians are supposed to interact with one another right now.
Well, hope all that helps. Maybe I can refer you to all the parables in which Jesus describes the "kingdom of God". Come, Lord Jesus!