It occurred to me recently that I cannot think of a time when I have heard the concept of sanctification linked to a kingdom eschatology. The concepts fit together so neatly that it is baffling that we don’t talk about the two ideas together.
I have spent the last few days exploring this idea, and it’s an exciting perspective to consider. If we begin with the premise that God is drawing creation into His Kingdom, and drawing us into His likeness – and that the Holy Spirit uses us for His Kingdom purposes, then it seems to be a small step to say that what God is doing in us, he is also doing for us and for His Kingdom. Our sanctification is part of His Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. Like one cog turning another, what God is doing in us is a part of what God is doing in the world.
That statement can also be reversed: what God is doing in the world, he is also doing in us.
I suspect that we could further explore how exposure to the reality of God’s Kingdom can be sanctifying. When the Kingdom is present in the love of a community, for example, there is a sanctifying power to it. When a church is committed to serving the Kingdom by serving others, there is sanctifying power to that, too. And if we’re able to make that conclusion, we would recognize that the two concepts are actually two parts of one concept. Sanctification is the Kingdom finding expression in us, and the Kingdom is the reality of a sanctified world.
A quick Google search shows that not a lot has been written about this. I came across one book that I plan to order that specifically explores sanctification and a Kingdom eschatology (if I understand the author’s blurb correctly), and interestingly, it’s from the Reformed tradition. In my brief search, I have not found much from a Wesleyan perspective. I plan to dig deeper into this, so I suppose it’s time to hit the journals!