“The first word Jesus used in His earthly ministry [was] repent. Repent means to change the way you’ve been conditioned to think, and I believe that is the only way we are going to see the impact of the original concepts and idea of God. We need to challenge our own theology, challenge the curriculum of our Bible schools and our seminaries, and ask simple questions. Are we teaching and producing ministers who have the right message? This is a major concern, because you’re talking about maybe 60 years of history where we have emphasized the wrong message; we’ve focused on the wrong issue and built something God did not intend. We created a religion when He came to reintroduce a Kingdom. We need to change our conditioning, change what we’ve been taught; we need to question our own theology.”
What would it look like to bring God’s Kingdom to this world? Dr. Myles Munroe talks about the radical changes it would mean for our society.
What is the idea behind your new book, God’s Big Idea?
This book challenges the ideas that we have been cultivating and incubating concerning God’s plans for man on earth for the past 2,000 years. The book is about reconnecting to the original idea of Jesus and His message, which is really the message that God first introduced to us in the creation of man in Genesis. It’s about the idea that God intended to not introduce a religion to earth, but rather a Kingdom, a government. And the book really focuses on the concept of kingdoms and their desire to colonize territory. To simplify it, God created earth to colonize it with the culture of heaven. This, therefore, is not a religious idea, but rather a political idea. This is why Jesus came as a king, not as a prophet—because He was really coming to reintroduce to earth what Adam had lost (the kingdom). So it focuses on the fact that the mandate and mission of Jesus Christ have been misunderstood; we have reduced it to a religion that makes it ineffective and almost impractical. I was born in 1954 here in the Bahamas, and I was not born in a democracy—I was born in a kingdom, and I lived in a kingdom until 1973. I show in this book how a kingdom colonizes a territory that’s far away, but it basically becomes just like the kingdom. For example, in the Bahamas, we drive on the left-hand side of the street because that’s the way the kingdom drove in Europe. We drink tea four times a day because that’s what they did in the kingdom. We wear short pants with suits because that’s the way the kingdom dressed. In other words, whatever happened in the kingdom happened in the territory, so the idea is not really for the earth to go to heaven, but for heaven to come to earth.
If the message has been misinterpreted for so long, what is the correct direction for us to take now?
Nothing is more difficult than trying to correct history. The first word Jesus used in His earthly ministry [was] repent. Repent means to change the way you’ve been conditioned to think, and I believe that is the only way we are going to see the impact of the original concepts and idea of God. We need to challenge our own theology, challenge the curriculum of our Bible schools and our seminaries, and ask simple questions. Are we teaching and producing ministers who have the right message? This is a major concern, because you’re talking about maybe 60 years of history where we have emphasized the wrong message; we’ve focused on the wrong issue and built something God did not intend. We created a religion when He came to reintroduce a Kingdom. So the answer is, we need to repent. We need to change our conditioning, change what we’ve been taught; we need to question our own theology.
What would you suggest to someone leading 20somethings to bring about this change?
Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is for young people and for children.” When I first read that, I was very impressed because it is a strange statement. And He said that when the adults were trying to get rid of the young people. They were telling them to get away from Him, and He said, “Leave them alone, because to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” I think He was really emphasizing to us that it is easier for young people to accept this message, because they are still dynamic in their thinking; they will not settle on old ideas. I believe the future of leadership in the Kingdom on earth is going to be about those who are young. Also, we are, right now, where someone led us. Leadership determines everything. Jesus said, “As the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch.” He is suggesting that a person in leadership could be blind. So leadership will either lead you into a ditch or lead you into purpose. We need our leaders, especially those who are teaching our young people, to have the right message. I believe it’s going to take young leaders who are open, who are willing to learn new or original ideas. Also, leadership is not relegated to an elite group of people. Leadership potential exists in everybody. What I think we have missed is that we have somehow relegated leadership only to a special, talented few people. Every human being was created to dominate and lead in an area of gifting. The Kingdom of God is about each individual human being restored to their leadership area of dominion.
How does one reach his or her leadership potential?
I think leadership is not something you learn; it’s something you discover. “Trapped in any follower is a hidden leader” is one of my favorite statements. Therefore, we need people to be taught that they possess a hidden leader on the inside, and to reconnect to that leader they must reconnect to the Creator who placed that leadership potential in them. They must be reconnected to God, and this is why we should come back to God—not really to go to heaven, but to rediscover our true leadership dominion mandate, and then serve that to the world.
How should church leaders encourage the younger generation to see leadership potential in themselves?
Young people all over the world are very frustrated. They are very disillusioned. Many of them are turning their backs on religion. They are walking away from the faith of their parents, and most of this is because religion has failed them. What we have hyped about religion, in most cases, has not been a reality for those young people. So my concern is that the leaders who are presently responsible for guiding the masses and teaching the people in the church environment, as well as business and corporate, reconnect themselves to God’s original idea—and that is that God created man to have dominion over the earth. What has been taught is that God created them to have dominion over heaven, and so they have been almost conditioned to be useless on earth because they are preoccupied with heaven. I believe we need those who are in the leadership positions to ask, “What are we teaching?” Leadership today is more concerned about their position, power, influence, recognition and titles than they are about their message. If you are going to help people discover God’s original will for them, we’ve got to first know what that will is, and He said it very clear in Scripture: He created man to have to dominion over earth. He wanted to establish man’s authority on earth to represent heaven on earth, and most of our theological philosophy is completely opposite of that.
What does it look like to bring God’s culture into this culture?
We need to define what culture is. Every human being lives within a culture, and culture means “to grow in.” It means to literally fall, and this is exactly what I believe is happening all around us right now. Let me see if I can simplify it for you. Culture is a product of law. And laws create norms for society. So if you want to see the Kingdom of God on earth, we have to begin with that simple concept. This is why anyone who wants to change the culture of a country must first try to change the norms of the country. All societies establish laws that become norms. Those norms create the environment that incubates society. So when you implement the laws of God in society, they produce a culture of heaven. This is why we need to stop focusing on people leaving earth and focus on, like Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is the yeast. Yeast invades dough. So we need to put people in positions of authority—in government, business, law, medicine, media, sports and entertainment—who are filled with the laws of God so that we can bring those laws into effect. We need people in the areas that create laws and policies who are filled with the Kingdom so that those laws can become the fabric of our social development.
What would that look like?
All countries have governments, citizens, territory, culture, community and society, so the Kingdom of God is no different. When the Kingdom comes into a place, you love your enemy; you forgive those who spitefully use you. The Kingdom helps you create a society where we are givers more than takers. The Kingdom is the love of God prevailing in politics, in business, in government, in media. It is all the impact of the laws of God creating a social environment where the strong help the weak, where those who have give to those who don’t. It’s a society where relationships are built on love. It is heaven’s culture on earth, colonizing earth in heaven’s nature. This is the nature of love, and Jesus lived that out Himself. He told Peter, “Forgive your enemy.” Peter said, “How long?” Peter thinks it should be seven times. Christ says, “No, 70 times seven.” He was trying to implement a new standard for relationships. He says when a man is caught in adultery, it used to be because he was physically caught. In our culture, if you think about committing adultery in your mind, you’ve committed adultery. So in other words, the law of God brings society to a higher account, where our relationships are based on a new set of values.
How should this outlook change the way we relate to the world around us?
I think in the same way you relate to the people under your other kingdom, which would be the United States’ concept of a government and a country. America is built on certain ideals. These ideals are called philosophies. A philosophy is a product of a belief system which comes from law. If each one of us were to submit ourselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ, then we will live that out in our daily lives: in our work, in our business dealings, in our relationships. We’d begin to live the principles of the laws of God and have a set of morals that reflect heaven’s standards. For example, I’ve been married to my wife for 30 years. As a Kingdom citizen, we cannot get a divorce. The Bible says, “I hate divorce.” That’s a law of the Kingdom, and it regulates our marriage. So, the Kingdom of God is made applicable. If I die today, I will go to heaven. I believe in heaven. Heaven is more real than earth. However, the goal of God was for that heavenly culture to come to earth. That is the ultimate goal of Jesus. Christ says when you pray, don’t pray for food and clothes and house and cars and money. Instead, pray for this: “Our Father who art in heaven, holy is Your name, Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done on earth just like it is in heaven.” He’s talking about a kingdom, a culture, a morality, a value system and laws that will give us a pure society where people can love and live together and build up each other.
I’m trying to help us make it a better place. In John 17:15 Jesus said, “Do not take them out of the world. Leave them in the world, but keep them from the evil in the world.” In other words, just like yeast, stay in the dough so you can make a difference, not just make a living. That’s what it’s supposed to be about every day.