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Jesus’ International Kingdom and American Christianity

July 18, 2012

American churches take their nation very seriously. They develop deep devotion to issues they think will strengthen their beloved country. Some of these issues are more “conservative” and some more “liberal,” but a fervent message of most American Christians is that the United States should be more godly or loving.

From the beginning, American Christianity has seen itself as a new Israel, a new nation under God. Consequently, its national focus has depended more on the Old Testament and its covenant for the kingdom of Israel. More liberal Christians have seen themselves as Old Testament prophets reforming the nation, so that it is more loving to the poor and oppressed; more conservative Christians have seen themselves as patriotic citizens upholding traditional values and godly leaders.

But Jesus did not come to reform or uphold the kingdom of Israel; he came to form a new kingdom, an international kingdom of disciples who followed him as king. To the degree that American Christianity focuses on national issues and national leaders, it misses Jesus’ alternative kingdom and kingship. Jesus says his little mustard seed kingdom is the one that will be truly godly and loving; all the nations of the world will hate it–because his disciples will expose their idolatry (of national power, prosperity, and pride) and immorality (of national exploitation, oppression, and violence). The point of exposing these national sins is not to change them; the point is to present a contrast, a different kingdom and king; this is the focus of Jesus’ few disciples. Many are called, but few are chosen.

Do you agree?

  1. “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.'” John 18:36 NIV 1984. I don’t hear many people point this to this issue. Nice job.

    • Thanks alienambassador. Jesus was the ultimate “alien” and formed a “holy nation” (a godly kingdom) of aliens (1 Pet. 2:9,11). Jesus’ international kingdom of disciples is not “of the world” just as Jesus was not “of the world;” it is the evil world, and the evil one (the ruler of this world), who hate Jesus and his disciples (Jn. 17:14-15).

  2. Hi JATB, I completely agree. Jesus was most certainly discussing an “overlay Kingdom,” and one which I like to think can be experienced right here and now.

    • Jesus’ kingdom has indeed been present here and now, ever since he inaugurated it as the new king (with a kingdom of disciples). I’m not sure what you mean by an “overlay Kingdom.”

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