Whose Kingdom Do You Desire?
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.