Clarence Jordan on the Kingdom of
"The phrase most
frequently upon Jesus' lips was 'Kingdom of God.' It was the center
of all his preaching and teaching. Most of his parables illumined
one facet or another of the Kingdom. It was the pearl of great
price; the treasure hid in a field for which one sacrifices
everything else. His disciples were taught to seek it first, and to
pray for its coming upon the earth. Professional religionists had
more difficulty entering it than harlots, and rich men found it
well-nigh impossible to get in. Hypocrites were absolutely banned.
"The citizens of the Kingdom were the poor
in spirit. They were those who were persecuted for righteousness
sake, and who rejoiced when they were reviled, denounced, and
slandered for something beyond themselves. They had no possessions,
yet it was the Father's good pleasure to give them the
"To enter this Kingdom was to be saved, to
find eternal life.
"The most likely candidates for citizenship
were those least bound by tradition, custom, and creed, who were
flexible enough, and willing enough, to go through a complete
metamorphosis of mind and soul, a process called 'repentance' in the
New Testament. The first ones in this Kingdom were the last, or we
might say, the least likely - the poor, the uneducated, the 'lost,'
the babes - and the last in the Kingdom were the first - the high
and mighty, the wise and understanding, the influential, the
"All citizens were examined for deeds, not
"What was this Kingdom of the Reversed
Social Order, this revolutionary Kingdom of God?
"Jesus never sought to define it. Perhaps he
considered it indefinable, like God and love and beauty and
"to the people who heard Jesus, the word 'kingdom'
would certainly mean a body of citizens, a nation, a race, or a
people, who were in subjection to a given ruler. God's Kingdom,
then, would mean simply his people, his nation."
from "Christian Community in
the South" by Clarence Jordan, Journal of Religious Thoughts,
14:1, 1956, p. 27. Jordan founded the Georgia interracial Koinonia
Community in the 1940s. Habitat for Humanity was started by the
"The spiritually humble are
God's people, for they are citizens of his new order.
"They who are deeply concerned are God's people, for they will
see their ideas become reality.
"They who are gentle are his people, for they will be his
partners across the land.
"They who have an unsatisfied appetite for the right are God's
people, for they will be given plenty to chew on.
"The generous are God's people, for they will be treated
"Those whose motives are pure are God's people, for they will
have spiritual insight.
"Men of peace and good will are God's people, for they will
have spiritual insight.
"Those who have endured much for what's right are God's people;
they are citizens of his new order."
Jordan's translation of the
beatitudes (Mt 5) in THE COTTON PATCH VERSION OF MATTHEW AND JOHN,