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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Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. All who wait patiently for him are happy. (CSB)
Matthew 14:29 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter answered him, “command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. (CSB)
Matthew 14:19, 20 Then he commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish, looking up to heaven, he blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate and was satisfied. They picked up twelve baskets full of leftover pieces. (CSB)