Daily D – John 18:36
“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” JOHN 18:36 (CSB)
Yesterday we witnessed the orderly transition of power from one presidential administration to another. There was some doubt about this after the events in the nation’s capital in recent days. There are still concerns as investigators seek the conspirators and as some folks on the West Coast declared yesterday that they would not be ruled.
Read this chapter in John and you will see impulsive Peter draw a sword to protect and defend Jesus. If Jesus had so wanted, he could have assembled a formidable mob to install him as king. There were many who wanted to do so along the way. Thankfully, Jesus made it clear that was not how his kingdom operates.
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The NLT clarifies the meaning for us when it translates this text, “My kingdom is not an earthly kingdom.” It does not require an army, a mob, or a militaristic tone. It does not operate on the principle of power politics. His kingdom is the rule of hearts aligned and attuned to his that seek the highest possible good for all people everywhere.
Jesus’ kingdom is not a civil religion kind of kingdom. It is not a Hollywood kingdom. Each of these understandings of who Jesus is misses the mark. In both of them, Jesus agrees with us more than we are asked to agree with him. Jesus gets used, not obeyed, not followed, not loved supremely. In each of these, we as individuals tend to come off more like the masters of our own domains, more like little gods, than children of God.
Jesus does not need, nor does he want, a mob. He wants apprentices and churches. Apprentices live as Jesus would if he did what we do. How would Jesus teach if he were a teacher? How would Jesus enforce the law if he were a police officer? How would Jesus collect garbage if he were a garbage collector? How would Jesus live if he were you?
Churches extend the kingdom through loving service and winsome witness. They never mistake political activity for Kingdom labor. They operate by Kingdom truth regardless of who occupies the highest office of the land.
The bottom line is that the Kingdom of God does not function according to earthly rules. It does not require earthly enforcers. It does not need earthly rebels. The Kingdom of God does not sponsor riots or looting.
Whichever political party you most closely align with is not the party of God. Listen to what Jesus said to Peter after he swung a sword to take off a head and only managed to sever an ear which Jesus skillfully replaced: “Put your sword back in its sheath.”
The Kingdom of God builds a better world for everyone. Let us put our hands to that kind of work in a manner that honors Jesus and serves others.
I will live by Kingdom truth that honors God and serves others.
Our Father, empower us to join you in extending your kingdom through hearts and minds aligned and attuned with yours. Empower us to make this world more like heaven on earth. Empower us to do what is right, just, fair, and compassionate for all people everywhere. Deliver us from political intrigue and the shifting sands of political correctness and cancel culture. Amen.
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Numbers 14:24 But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it. (CSB)
Luke 9:18-20 While he was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, that one of the ancient prophets has come back.” “But you,” he asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” (CSB)
Luke 9:7-8 Herod the tetrarch heard about everything that was going on. He was perplexed, because some said that John had been raised from the dead, some that Elijah had appeared, and others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. “I beheaded John,” Herod said, “but who is this I hear such things about?” And he wanted to see him. (CSB)
Psalm 56:1,2 Be gracious to me, God, for a man is trampling me; he fights and oppresses me all day long. My adversaries trample me all day, for many arrogantly fight against me. (CSB)