The city of Ithaca is a very politically charged town and I am so accustomed to hearing people discuss political issues that I rarely even think about it. Political discussions are just a part of the every day background noise.
However the other day something did catch my attention. Two people were discussing their frustrations with the nations participating in the G8 Summit. One of the people commented on what it would be like to actually be a part of a nation that actually cares about people rather than preservation of political power. I could not help think to myself, “If they only knew that there is a kingdom (though not a physical nation) that actually is concerned about the well-being of all people rather than protecting its power base.” Of course I was thinking about the Kingdom of God which Jesus proclaimed was breaking into this world, the same Kingdom (reign) of God which Jesus demonstrated in his very own life and called his followers to do so after him.
If people only knew that there is a kingdom that is more concerned with justice and compassion for all, based upon self-sacrificing service rather than self-centered preservation of power. Then again, I must admit that many people do not know of such a kingdom because too many Christians (and their church congregations) have failed to proclaim this kingdom and demonstrate in their very own lives. Instead of proclaiming and demonstrating the Kingdom of God, too many of us have been more focused on proclaiming and protecting what makes our local Christian communities different from another Christian community. On the other side, too many Christians and their local churches have been focused on reducing the nature of God’s kingdom to the politically correct cultural expectations of a fallen world. And other Christians have simply placed other loyalties (often politically related) above the Kingdom of God and their confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. Is it any wonder why so many people see Christians as simply part of the world’s problems?
I believe God created this world and created life in this world to be lived in an equitable and just manner. Unfortunately, the selfish actions of humanity (sin) have destroyed such a life. But God in his grace is trying to redeem us (save us) from this pitiful mess we have made for ourselves. God therefore revealed himself to us in his Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus demonstrated to us how God intended for humanity to live and did this consistently throughout his life. Of course the powers that be felt threatened and so they killed Jesus. But this was all part of a plan of God, who raised Jesus from death so that the world would know that life beyond the powers of evil and death could be lived. God made Jesus both Lord and Savior, not so we could just get a “ticket to heaven” but so that we would surrender our selfish ways (baptism) to God’s way and find real life where selfish pride and living is relented in exchange for service and self-sacrifice for the sake of others. Jesus is our model, thus our Lord. The resurrected Jesus is our promise of this new life, thus our Savior. God gives us his Holy Spirit as a promise of this new “eternal” life which frees us to live a life of service and self-sacrifice for the sake of others without fear. Therefore we can proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom of God in our living.
If they only knew that there is a kingdom (though not a physical nation) that actually is concerned about the well-being of all people rather than protecting its power base!