*see notes either before or after reading
Sometimes I wonder if modern day Christians have not understood what Jesus has called us to become to enter the kingdom of heaven. Did Jesus REALLY call us to be servants? Isn't that a bit too mundane or slow in today's world that's all about technology and getting the fastest results? To sell all we have and give to the poor? Nobody does that! Today's modern Christian often praises the certain "Christian Republican" running for president. Our bumper stickers proclaim, "God bless America" or "In God We trust”. We vote pro-life. I wouldn't even be surprised if some Christians unconsciously interpret God's praise to us as "Well done, my good and faithful Republican." or "Well done, my good and faithful conservative." But when did politics merge with being a servant? When did our banner cry become "God and nation!" rather than the 1st century Christians', "God OR nation!"? When did politics replace serving? Should Christians be involved in politics, or did Jesus call us to something much greater and radical?
How you define the kingdom of God is where the problem lies.
Many of today’s American Christians define America as the kingdom of God. It can be phrased almost like this: Let’s “take America back for God”! He’s given us this nation, and it’s OUR responsibility to keep it “godly”. We must outlaw same-sex marriages, get rid of abortion. Christians need to get into office, preserve our rights, and change America for God. If we don’t protect our freedom and liberty, it shall be taken away and the world needs our Christian influence. Let’s turn America back to a godly nation so we can glorify God!
But did Jesus ever say, “We must take Rome back for God!”? No.
Jesus defined his kingdom – the kingdom of the cross as the kingdom of God.
What does the kingdom of the cross look like? It’s a kingdom completely different from any government that has ever existed on earth. It is not one political earthly government. It grows from a mustard seed that Jesus planted to gradually expand. We become the example of Jesus to the world. Jesus helps us to start acting and thinking like Him individually and corporately. People experience the reality of the coming kingdom in us – and then they are won over. And we expand until Satan’s rule ends.
Not just that, the kingdom of the cross operates with love. That means working with others – not thinking about what OUR interest is, but THEIRS. We will wash feet because God washes feet. We are to care for orphans and for widows. For today’s Christian it can also mean visiting nursing homes, and provide for the widows in our church. It may mean to open abortion prevention clinics. Helping the moms spiritually and financially. Clothe the needy. We need to love our enemies. That may mean to develop relationships with lesbians, and show them that their lifestyle is wrong and does not please God. This is what kingdom of the cross looks like. There are so many different ideas, but these are not just “nice ideas of the day”. Jesus came to introduce us how the His government operates. We are commanded to do all these things. Jesus expects us and calls us to. Is there anything that stops us?
Let me give an example of what the kingdom of God does NOT look like. William Wilberforce, a 19th Century British Politician, wanted to make Britain look like Christian nation – almost like, “Take Britain back for God”. After becoming a Christian, he actually considered dropping out of politics. But John Newton convinced him that he would be the Christian light in the darkness, the Christian influence. Wilberforce believed that government needed to intervene and fix the social problems. He made it his goal to outlaw slavery and reform the morals of Britain. After over twenty years, Wilberforce outlawed slavery. Don’t get me wrong…I am not bringing down all that William Wilberforce has done. He did abolish slavery and do good to society. But did Britain become a Christian nation? No. This is what the kingdom of the cross does not look like.
Jesus did not use the government, the power of the sword, to change hearts. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, and to turn the other cheek. He did not go into office and change the world from there. He touched our most inner souls – our hearts. He used revival, and people came to Him. On the other hand, the government cannot even change our hearts. It can make laws and determine what the common moral was, but just because there is a law that outlaws murder does not mean that the law makes me NOT want to murder. It just restricts me and confines me to the rule. The government operates on fear. It can command people to do the right thing, but cannot change hearts. The Great Awakening changed people’s hearts. Not with force, but with revival. Just like Jesus. Thousands of people gave their lives to Jesus. It prevented a revolution in England that was not prevented in France. The Great Awakening taught to love our enemies, care for the sick, what Jesus taught. The people did not start following laws because they HAD to, but because they WANTED to.
The Early Church changed the world without being involved in politics or government.
Rick A. Michaels wrote, “How was it possible for unlettered, unschooled, poor urban workers and their families to "turn the world upside down" as it is described in the Acts of the Apostles? An early Christian writer named Tertullian quoted a pagan official say about the Christians: "look at how much they love each other!"
Sociologist Rodney Stark summarized the growth of the early Church, “Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery of life in the urban Greco-Roman world. . . By providing new kinds of social relationships to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless… Christianity offered charity as well as hope…To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided an expanded sense of family… And to cities faced with epidemics, fire, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services….”
We went over three descriptions of different kingdoms: the American kingdom, the British kingdom, and finally Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus’ kingdom operates with LOVE that the Early Christians showed without the government. Jesus came to introduce us the kingdom of the cross. Are you part of the kingdom of the cross? Or do you have one foot in politics to try to change the world and another in the kingdom of the cross? Politics does not merge with serving. As a Christian, once we live in Jesus’ kingdom and trust in the cross, we realize that we don’t need any methods of any earthly government. That they don’t work. Why should we turn to other methods if we ONLY believe in Jesus’ government? We realize that the only hope to America is – not that we bring America back to the Christian values it was founded upon, or that outlaw abortion and get more Christians in office, but we realize that the only hope to America is JESUS, the transformation of hearts, and obeying the highest calling He has given us: servant hood. Jesus has the most powerful force in the world: love. Jesus’ government is sufficient.
If you trust in the kingdom of the cross, if you trust Jesus, you will not be involved in earthly governments.
Whose government are you part of?
Whose kingdom do you trust?
I don't think it will be right for me to respond to comments because it will only go in circles. Also, I am trying to limit my time on the internet because high school is, after all, demanding and serious.
This has been the most difficult essay I have ever written, and it took over a month. But I learned alot, and don't regret it at all. I presented this persuasive speech an audience. And as you can see, it is written more in a speech format than an essay format. I'd welcome your thoughts!