You cannot listen to the words of Jesus and NOT realize the implications of the gospel of the Kingdom – the king’s domain. The term KINGDOM is pregnant with governmental imagery - monarchy - theocracy. It is profoundly political as opposed to religious. Before His crucifixion Jesus was asked, "Are you a King?", to which He responded, "Thou sayest!" Above his head, on the cross, there was placed a sign by he Romans that said, The King of the Jews. Jesus spent much time publicly speaking about the kingdom, what it was, where it was, how it worked and He even taught His disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Jesus’ reign was to come into this time/space world of ours and his kingship - his government, his rule was soon perceived as an obvious threat, not only to the Romans but also to those Zionists who longed for a return to an earthly Jewish state and a restoration of their nationalistic theocratic identity! This desire was reflected in the question of His disciples at the end of His 40 day post-resurrection seminar on the subject, “Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
"We have no king but Caesar."
Jesus’ kingdom is political and has profound political implications in this world, To relegate the coming kingdom to some future dispensation, some other ethereal realm, some new age other dimension is to deny both the prayer and teachings of Jesus: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!" Yet the problem for most of us is that we do not prayerfully consider the teachings of Jesus and their application to our lives, our values, our world, our society, our ethics, our morals, our actions, our business and our politics!
It is my contention that if there are no "political" consequences to the kingdom of God coming to earth (as it already is in heaven) then HIS will is obviously NOT being done on earth. If there is no demonstration, no transformation and everything is business as usual: where and what is the evidence that the Kingdom has come? Are we to just sit passively by or go on our merry way while and continue to sell fire insurance while preaching American “apple pie in the sky by and by when we die"! Our avoidance of the clash between cultures, values, and kingdoms has resulted in what Tony Campollo aptly calls “low impact Christianity.” Instead of a creative counter culture we have become a subculture: somewhere beneath or subject subservient to the prevailing secular culture! Shame on us! Christianity is by nature and the example of our Lord and the early believers - counter cultural! Jesus Christ was no meek and mild namby pamby religionionist. He was a radical of the highest order. He sanctioned neither Jewish elitism, Roman Imperialism, nor Greek democratic ideals (ecclesia).
No one, having listened to Jesus' public pronouncements could ignore his constant references to the primacy of the Kingdom of God. It was the kingdom of God which dominated His discourse and of which He spoke with such commanding authority. If we are to be subjects of the King we must ask one question, "Lord, our commander and chief, what are your orders? What would you have me do in the face of evil? How shall I respond? What is your will to be done, O Lord!"
As politically incorrect as it may sound, we must accept that Christianity is not ultimately about outcomes or even about the transformation of society. The goal is not utopia or heaven on earth, but a heavenly people in the earth who radiate and reflect the life and order of heaven! Ultimately it is not about WHAT we do or how we achieve His objectives but WHY we do it! It is about motives more than means or methods or results . It is about demonstrating the ultimacy of the power of the love of God. Hence, we must realize that good ends resulting from motives other than love are of dubious eternal consequence. To paraphrase Mother Theresa, "Large deeds with little love are of little consequence but small deeds done with great love can change the world." Love is the pure hi-test gas which powers the engine of kingdom advance and which leaves behind no residual pollution.
We must understand what the Kingdom of God is all about - what it means for us to be citizens of heaven and where our allegiance truly is! When there is conflict between the teachings of Christ (assuming we really are interested and diligent in trying to understand what our Lord requires) AND our usual and customary practices, it is clear what we must do! As with Bonhoeffer, Dr. King, Gandhi or even Patrick Henry, and countless other historical figures, we may find ourselves moved to stand against the tide and for truth; even if it costs us our liberty, our comfort and/or our lives. Whether the issue is abortion, corruption, caring for the poor and destitute, sexual slavery, opposition to war or injustice; the only appropriate question for us to ask is, “Lord what would YOU have us do!?!” Our response is not some religious obligation but an expression of our heart felt submission to His Lordship. It is a manifestation - an visible evidence of the love which operates within and through us and our desire to please Him! This heavenly love compels us to act. Simply professing that we have faith or confessing that we are Christians or “believers” is not sufficient. Faith without works is dead; meaning that mere “belief” is impotent - it is neither life giving nor life enhancing! After all, the even “devils believe and tremble.” We are to show our trust in the Lord, to demonstrate our submission to Him and His reign over us, with and by our acts of obedience. Jesus says, “If you love me you will do what I say!” Really?! Can it possibly be that simple?
So here is my prayer.