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Jesus, America, and God's Kingdom - Part 4

Which statement sounds like Jesus' will for the church? Is it “Make America Great Again”? It is “Build Back Better”? How about “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations”? How about “you will be my witnesses”? As each day passes, I’m starting to believe that a lot of professing Christians love American politics, Trump or Biden, Pence or Harris, right or left, more than Jesus Christ. I’m not exaggerating. It’s scary and sad. Just look at the anxiety, the anger, the fear, the vitriol, the hate, the bitterness, the fighting, the scheming, the slandering, the suspicion.
Have we forgotten what Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:33-38, “33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?”35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “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 to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
Did you catch all that? It’s really to the point: “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 to the Jews.” Jesus servants don’t fight over the kingdoms of the world because Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. We fight the kingdom of darkness with the truth of the gospel and the light of Christ. There is a lot of fighting going on over the kingdoms of the world. Did Jesus fight Pilate? Did Jesus fight Herod? Did Jesus try to overthrow the wicked rulers of His day? Did He take up a sword against the emperor? Did He teach His disciples to do so? Did He refuse to pay taxes to stick it to the man? Did He teach us to fight others over earthly domains?
Are we involved in the kingdoms of the world and the dealings of men? Sure. Are we part of this society? Of course. Should we seek the well-being of the city, state, and nation in which we live? Absolutely. Should we vote? If we want to. It’s a right, not a requirement. But, do we fight and attack people? God forbid. Do we wish for their destruction and suffering? God forbid. Do we despair if things are not the way we think they should be? How could we when we know the risen King who has all authority in heaven and earth?
Consider 1 Peter 2:13-17, “13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”

Consider Mark 12:17, "“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Consider Romans 13:1-7, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
Are these commands irrelevant now? "But Trump is so wicked!”, you say. “But Biden is such a crook!”, you say. Look back at the verses above that command Christians be subject and to honor and respect the Emperor and the governors and the authorities. Does it say to submit, respect, and honor as long as they are righteous? Was Nero the Emperor righteous? Was he a good guy? Has Trump or Biden burned Christians alive as torches for his garden like Nero did? That would probably hurt their chances in the election, don’t you think? Were the rulers of the first century generally righteous or unrighteous? Generally just or unjust? They were generally unrighteous.
Even so, Christians submit. Christians pray. Christians honor. Christians respect. Christians pay taxes. Christians do good. Christians render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Christians don’t rebel, we obey. Christians don’t revile, we bless. Christians don’t slander, we entreat. We don’t repay evil for evil. If we suffer for righteousness’ sake; we fear Christ not men. We endure patiently, entrusting our souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. We stand ready to give a reason for the hope within us. We do so with gentleness and respect. Our speech is always to be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that we know how to answer each person (1 Peter 2-3, Colossians 4, 1 Corinthians 4).
All that is left to do now is to consider our ways and obey God’s commands.

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