Politics and God’s Kingdom: Pt 1
(This blog is based off a teaching from 6/21/20
If you want to listen, go to revchurchslc.podbean.com
Included in the podcast, that you won’t get here on the blog, are questions and conversations)
We are in a charged and polarized environment. On top of it being an election year, we find ourselves with many sides to choose from. Pulled to the left and to the right, we hear loudly, “if you’re not with us, then you are against us!” So, when I say politics, I mean actual politics, and also, every polarized position that presents itself to us. This is not an attempt to avoid difficult conversations, or to avoid the issues of justice that are making themselves loudly known. This is about choosing the side of Jesus.
We as Christians, as followers of the Way, the Truth and the Life, must view our actions and conduct under a microscope. If we think that because we’re passionate about something, then God must have commissioned us to it, we might be missing the mark. The how is as important as the what, Grace and Truth. Passion does not equal righteousness, and if we think this is so then we will justify the sin that stems from the anger we allow to reside in our hearts. We will become Christians who think that blunt-force ministry is ok, and we will miss so many opportunities to actually touch people.
Love is our calling, period.
If we are not constantly looking to Jesus as our standard for living, for carrying out our mission, his mission, then we are missing the mark.
Let’s begin.[I encourage you read the whole passages given]
- Matthew 22:15-22 “Give to Caesar what’s Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”
Jesus’ loyalty was to neither the Pharisees nor to Caesar and Rome. His obedience and loyalty were to his Father and his Kingdom alone.
Pharisees and Herodians partner together to trap Jesus. The Herodians were staunch supporters of Herod who were loyalists to Rome. Two polarized groups hate the threat of Jesus so much that they are able to work together for their common goal.
Jesus does not choose a side, and this is why they are unable to trap him. He doesn’t even play the game that they’re using against him. Jesus does not side with any political power, organization, or earthly kingdom. Jesus doesn’t stop at not being tricked, he goes on to point to the Kingdom of Heaven.
“But because you bear the image of God, give back to God all that belongs to him.” (TPT) Jesus stands with his Father and with people.
- Matthew 8:5-13 Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant
Speaking of the centurion, Jesus says, “He has greater faith than anyone I’ve encountered in all of Israel!”
What struck me first about this is that Jesus probably offended every single person standing around except the centurion. More than likely he offended his 12 and other disciples following him. Surely he offended the Pharisees and Sadducees, they were constantly offended by him. But why the offense in this story? Because Jesus honors one who is part of the very empire that has oppressed his people. Jesus is not looking to critique or condemn any political power, rather, part of his mission was to find faith and breath on it, to honor it. One of my favorite titles of Jesus is ‘Author and perfecter of faith.’ His critiques throughout the gospel are geared toward the snakes that profess to be a part of his Father’s Kingdom, giving spiritual guidance and direction, which in turn should bring about freedom, and yet they spiritually oppress for personal gain. Who he is loyal to is being made obvious.
I don’t recall a place in scripture where Jesus calls out the Roman oppressor. He does not take a stand against these, it is not his mission. And right now, no matter where we stand, there is someone in political power that we want Jesus to call out. For many that is our president, and that’s not me saying I’m a supporter or a non-supporter, that’s just a fact. We want Jesus to join us against someone, and he won’t.
Jesus would find a police officer with faith and he would heal them. He would then cross the lines looking for someone with faith, in ANTIFA, and he would breathe on their faith. He would heal and breathe on faith wherever he found it. Somewhere in the midst of all this we would find someone whom we believe doesn’t deserve to get their faith breathed upon. Someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness or love. That being said, Jesus invited Matthew to be one of the twelve disciples and he was considered a traitor and an enemy to his people. And, Matthew was transformed. Jesus is not supporting people to stay in their positions, he looks for the gold in people and he draws it out, no matter where they come from or who’s side they’re on.
We look to blame those in leadership for the injustices we have in our society. Though they may have agreed with the injustices, may perpetuate them and even enforce them, the question we must ask is, are they really the problem? Did racism begin with our current leaders? Is inequality, bias, control or fear new to our generation?
Let me pause right here and be clear about something. Black lives matter. I am not dancing around oppression, issues of injustice or racism. I have been ignorant to much of this and I am learning and growing. Stand up for the oppressed and the marginalized. The Kingdom of Heaven is about freedom, but it is not about making enemies with human beings, for when we do, we trade in our eternal Kingdom for earthly ones.
A side story: While visiting Cambodia some years back, to love, learn and help end human trafficking, we learned a powerful Kingdom message. We were told that we would likely encounter traffickers and we could not hate them. We would meet men and women, who sold children for sex, and instead of wanting them dead, we needed to find Christ’s love in our hearts for them. The enemy could not be clearer than this and yet we were told that even these traffickers were not the enemy, as flesh and blood, but had bought into the plans of the real enemy. If we hated these traffickers, then we would forfeit our ability to love them, thus telling them, forgiveness is not for them. They then told us a story, where traffickers would frequent a gym called The Lord’s Gym, a ministry established in the heart of a human trafficking district. One particular trafficker was saved one day, surely not because he was hated by those who loved Jesus, but because he was offered love and forgiveness. Many of us would believe he was beyond being saved and yet this man was fully transformed becoming one of the most powerful drivers to bring about freedom in his country. The simple math was this, a saved and redeemed human trafficker became a force of freedom and redemption that was greater than any one human trafficker hated or killed. God’s love is greater and it covers a multitude of sins.
The Kingdom of God is not for those that choose the easy road. Love isn’t easy, but it is worth it. And, if you truly want lasting change for the sake of those oppressed, the Kingdom of Heaven is the only Kingdom that can bring this about.
Often the Jewish people would see the power and authority of Jesus, and it was said on more than one occasion that they attempted to force him into the powerful political position of king and… ‘Jesus, knowing that this was their intention, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.’ Jesus did come to be King, and if the Kingdom of Heaven is within you and I, it is us he came to be King of. He does not force his Lordship over a nation or people, but by invitation, establishes and grows his eternal Kingdom in and through the hearts of those who believe in him and are surrendered to him.
Here’s what I believe happens and this is not new to our generation; people look to blame the political system, the Caesar, the President, etc… for the injustices in their society. But if the people blame them for this, then surely they also believe that it is their leaders responsibility to make their society one of justice, peace and equality. And this expectation, expressed through critique, judgement and the like is our way of, unknowingly perhaps, skirting around the great responsibilities we have to bring about justice, peace and equality. The Kingdom of Heaven is growing within us!!! And it longs to be poured out from us. So, prophecy, speak the truth in love, heal and deliver. Surrender to the Spirit at work within us, longing to make God’s love, our love, a reality.
Listen and hear,
Watch and see,
For God is calling us to sit on thrones where we know our worth and we call out the worth in others.
If we follow Jesus, then we will be able to stand by people without taking a side.