We read in Genesis that God decides, “let Us make man in Our image, and let them rule;” after He does so we read, “and God saw that it was very good.”8 God’s rule, even from the beginning, is exercised through a people. Humanity, made in God’s image, is given dominion over the earth; reflecting God’s goodness and justice into creation.
This same pattern of authority is seen throughout the ongoing story of scripture. God covenants with Israel, and begins to teach them how to be human; they are to exercise an influence over the earth, to be a light to the nations. So too the Church, the covenant people in the Messiah, is the very dwelling place for God, and the central conduit for His authority upon the earth in this present age.
While the metaphor of ‘King and Subjects,’ or even, ‘Shepherd and Sheep’ may (out of context) invoke an authoritarian approach, God also uses other metaphors for His relationship to His creation. Like a Father, or even a Mother,9 with children, God is intimately concerned with us. This is no mere autocrat, governing by fiat, but rather a doting parent, deeply concerned with the wellbeing and the maturity of His children; hoping to involve them intimately in the family affairs. Even beyond this, provocatively, God is a Husband,10 wooing a Bride.
To talk of power in terms of God’s Kingdom, is to talk of power ‘in and through’ a people. As Paul writes, the church is “the fullness” of Christ as He “fills everything in every way.”11 It is for this reason that “the creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”12 God’s intended vessel for His power is a Spirit-indwelt people, empowered for His Kingdom purposes; the hope for our world is the covenant community in Christ; a restoration of God’s “very good.” Therefore, power in God’s Kingdom is tied to what God is doing and how God is doing it; to talk about justice and power we must look to the Cross.