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The Kingdom of God

In this election year marked with so much arrogance, fear, and rage, it is good for us to consider the Kingdom of God as an alternative.

Jesus began his earthly ministry by telling people to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (Matthew 4:17), but it wasn’t the kind of reign most were looking for, one in which an oppressive government would be overturned and a new nation would come forth in power. Christ explained that the “kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:20-21).

Pilate, the Roman official who ordered Jesus to be crucified, asked him if he was a king. Jesus acknowledged that he was, but added, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting that I might not be delivered over” (John 18:36).

Those who are followers of Jesus truly have a new citizenship in a heavenly kingdom and must view any earthly allegiances as utterly secondary to Christ and his Lordship. He compels us to come unreservedly and completely to him, so much that our own devotion to country and family and even ourselves must pale by comparison.

Jesus declared that “if anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-27). Jesus made it clear elsewhere that we are to love others completely and well, but that love could considered hate in comparison to the love we reserve for Jesus.

This love is not just a warm or sentimental feeling, but a consecrated devotion. Because we have seen Christ and his way to be the source and goal of all that is eternally valuable, we can willingly forsake everything for him. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44).

In another parable, Jesus represented himself as one planting wheat in a field, but his enemy sowed weeds among the wheat. Here the field is the world, the wheat represents the “sons of the kingdom,” and the weeds are the “sons of the devil.” Both weeds and wheat grew together in the same field, but removing the weeds would have uprooted the wheat as well, so he chose to let them grow together until harvest, when the wheat would be gathered into the barn and the weeds would be burned. This indicates that at some time in the future, the true believers will be separated from those without faith, who will be consumed in judgment, and “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:24-30; 37-43).

In the meantime, however, the kingdom of God coexists among that which is anything but godly. It is only reasonable to conclude that those who belong to the kingdom of God ought to live differently from those around them. Such people are called to be “the light of the world,” and Jesus exhorts us: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16).

Therefore, I refuse to be swept up in the septic tide that is politics in 2016.

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