John the Baptist wore animal skins, ate locust, and lived in the wilderness. John the Baptist proclaimed "repent for the Kingdom is near!" This conjures up images of "get your house in order because judgment is near!" or, more palatable with progressives, "Someday God's kingdom will come and we will have economic and social justice for all." Either way, the kingdom is not yet. Things are a mess but know that Jesus is coming soon and will establish dignity, respect, and equity for all.
John the Baptist "missed the mark." (the literal definition of 'sin') Jesus corrected John the Baptist. The kingdom of God is here, now. The only question Jesus offered, to us, his disciples, was "Do you want to join the kingdom now or do you wish to continue and live as if the kingdom is not yet?"
A similar question is "do you want to live in salvation after death or do you believe in the salvation of now?" Waiting for the kingdom to come in the future lets us all off the hook. We will lament the injustice of today with little hope that the church can make any difference with racism, sexism, and classism. Sure we will pray that God will smite these evils but we will ignore God's plea to get up off our butts and smite the injustice ourselves today.
God's kingdom is yet to come but not here yet allows Christian conservatives to focus exclusively on our salvation at the time of death. It allows liberals to continue to participate in systemic social and economic injustice with the lame excuse that our government lacks the compassion to help the poor. We pray that God will intervene and change the world but ignore God's answer to us "Do it yourselves!"
It is time that we got up, off our butts, and lived each day inside a kingdom that has already come. Recycling cardboard boxes and plastic is a symbolic statement about saving the planet, this is a good thing. But your church pledging to help 10 people earn a living wage, have 3 nutritious meals on their table every day, adequate housing, and health care is living in the kingdom now. If every church would bring dignity and respect to just 10 people, 10 families, then there would be no need for the antiquated, broken, federal and state, governmental social service delivery agencies. Poverty is a spiritual issue. Christians are capable of transforming the world. The only question is do we have the will to get it done. Do we believe the kingdom of God is now as Jesus says or are we happy to believe John the Baptist because he lets us off the hook?