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Whose Kingdom Do You Desire?

October 2, 2012

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus says to pray:  thy kingdom come (that is, it’s your kingdom that should come). While the imperial Romans occupied the kingdom of Israel, competing Jewish political parties–the Sadducees (chief priests) and the scribes of the Pharisees–courted the popular hopes and desires for a future Israel ruled only by Jews. The scribes of the Pharisees already ruled the local synagogues throughout Israel; they were the primary hope for a future Israel during Jesus’ time. Another budding hope was the armed insurgency that became the Zealot movement; their desire to overthrow Rome with violence and rule in their stead resulted in Rome decimating Jerusalem and Israel about forty years after Jesus’ ministry.

In our day, presidential elections produce new hopes for the U.S. kingdom. The prevalent propaganda of TV ads and campaign slogans produce desires for a certain candidate of a particular political party. Most voters now know who they desire to be the ruler of the “free world.” Indeed, the U.S. is a world empire, whose military might and financial corporations permeate the earth. Because U.S. mass media also reaches the world’s masses, they too come to desire certain candidates over others; they want a president who might lead his kingdom to help them sometimes–and not use them or abuse them so much (which is what empires usually do).

American church leaders encourage their members to vote; they say it’s their Christian duty. The hope is that new leaders might be more godly than previously, and thus their kingdom might return to its earlier glory days. The desire is for a ruling father like the founding fathers, the “godly” George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, heroes of the American Revolution–or like Abraham Lincoln or FDR, heroes of the Civil War and World War II.

But Jesus did not come to reform the kingdom of Israel (or any other kingdom of earth); he did not come to take sides between political parties; he did not come to promote war heroes or famous ruling fathers; he came to take over. He was the new king, the only king of the kingdom of heaven. After he was baptized and the Spirit from heaven anointed him as king, he resisted Satan’s temptation to be king over all the kingdoms of the world. He instead gathered disciples, his new kingdom, and taught them to focus on the coming of this kingdom, the kingdom from heaven. This kingdom continues to come anew, as the Spirit from heaven produces new children of the Father, the one in the heavens. Our desire and prayer is for our heavenly Father’s kingdom and king, the beloved Son who pleases him.

  1. John permalink

    The “kingdom” you (as a self-confessed entirely Godless sinner) really desire is a state/condition where you as you now presume yourself to be can live forever.

    If you really do your homework you fill find that Jesus was never ever in any sense a Christian. Nor did he create any of the religion about him – aka Christianism as a power-and-control-seeking ideology.
    Jesus was an outsider, a radical Spiritual Teacher/Master who appeared and taught on the margins of the tradition of Judaism as it was in his time and place. While he was alive he taught and demonstrated a radical, universal, non-Christian, non-sectarian Spirit-Breathing Spiritual Way of Life – end of story.
    The entire Christian tradition was created after the unfortunate brutal murder of jesus. And mostly long after too, by people who never ever met Jesus up close and personal in a living-breathing-feeling human form. Jesus certainly could not have created any of the “death and resurrection” dogma that became the center-pole of the Christian belief system.
    Corpses are fundamentally incapable of creating anything – havent you noticed.

    • Hi John,

      Did I confess to being a “Godless sinner”?

      I do agree with you that Jesus did not create a religion of “Christianism as a power-and-control seeking ideology.” And the history of the religion of Christianity shows a great deal of supporting national powers-that-be in order to control and dominate other (ungodly) nations. You are right that Jesus was an outsider to such power politics. I would add that Jesus’ kingdom (of disciples) was fundamentally different from all the kingdoms of earth, including so-called “Christian” nations.

      If some of your homework was done in the New Testament Gospels, you would indeed find that Jesus was a radical teacher; and his teaching focuses on his new kingdom; he is the king (“Master”) of a new kingdom of disciples, who obey his commands–commands like loving even neighbors who are enemies. I think his apostles (who knew Jesus “up close and personal”) were faithful in passing on the truth about Jesus and his new kingdom, including his death and resurrection (minus all the later “dogma”), through the New Testament writings that were written or influenced by them.

  2. As a pastor in America, I encourage people to vote, because I believe it is a wonderful right to have and that we should exercise it. That said, I do not make politics a topic of discussion in our church. I think we have more than enough on our plates focusing on the Kingdom of God.

    • Our focus is indeed the kingdom of God. Because America is just another “kingdom of earth,” I don’t think it’s so wonderful to be able to vote for leaders that seek the best interests of their “nation” (especially their own political party and paying patrons) at the expense of others outside those interests (including many other nations that have suffered from our military violence and economic deceit).

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