I just finished Scot McKnight’s great book called the King Jesus Gospel and I’ve started reading N.T. Wright’s book How God Became King. Both deal with what the Gospels are really all about though from different theological traditions; McKnight from an evangelical perspective and Wright from a more Mainline Protestant view. McKnight has some good views on how hard it is for Christians to keep the Kingdom of God and Christ’s Cross together:
It is too easy to want kingdom and forget the cross, or make it part of one’s agenda; and it is too easy to want cross, and not know what to make of the kingdom. But Israel’s Story, Israel’s God, the people of God, and the clash of the forces of evil with the ways of God always combine kingdom with cross.
I see the temptations this way, and I see them too often: for some the kingdom is about justice and the first thing that disappears when folks get tied into social justice too often is a weakening of the atoning cross (the cross becomes the story of sacrifice for others or the greatest injustice). For others the cross is so central, and by that I mean substitutionary atonement and the mechanics of how that cross works, that kingdom becomes little more than those who have experienced personal salvation or justification or reconciliation.
If you haven’t read either book, do so now.