Friday, February 08, 2008
An Unshakable Kingdom
Many of us have been following the current presidential race and noting how the pundits have neatly divided the electorate in the various camps. We’re inundated with talk on the black vote, white vote, white evangelical vote, Hispanic vote, youth vote, middle aged vote, elderly vote, white women’s vote, black women’s vote, urban vote, rural vote, etc., etc, etc.
We’re told that these camps will vote based on the characteristics common to each group. We know however that things are that simple and yet that hasn’t stopped them from categorizing each group and simply regarding them as just another constituency.
The danger for believers in this time is that we can all too easily fall into the trap of becoming just one more constituent group to be courted, appeased and yes lied to. Which is why I’m grateful that presidential politics rolls around every four years. It gives those who pledge allegiance to the cross an opportunity to remind ourselves of a few important and unchangeable things. Recalling and reflecting on these truths will help us to keep our heads and not get too caught up in the things of this world which while significant don’t carry eternal weight.
We can begin minding and meditating on Daniel’s words to King Nebuchadnezzar found in the second chapter of his prophesy ‘And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure."
Those words of power and beauty teach us that God’s rule, reign and agenda of worship, righteousness, spiritual vitality, peace, justice and salvation through Jesus Christ exists here and now and claims the allegiance of the souls of those who dwell in the temporary kingdoms of this world. One implication of that reality is that our ultimate task or mission is the extension and expansion of that eternal kingdom. Our main calling is not the pursuit of the overall supremacy of any particular temporary nation. Nor do we dare give the impression that the strength and vitality of one single temporary nation is in anyway tied to the inevitable growth and progress of Gods eternal kingdom. Does that mean we withdraw from the current election process, sit on our hands and wait for the end of the world? Of course not. Why? Because our Lord and king taught and demonstrated that his subjects are free to use their energy, time, effort and ability to show God’s love, grace, peace and justice as proof that His eternal kingdom is present in the here and now.
One other implication of this truth is that our loyalty to and love for those in the kingdom trumps our allegiance to the temporary political parties we choose to belong to now. As the apostle John wrote in his first letter ’that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete‘.
What we have in common, which is our conviction regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ goes far deeper than the bonds formed by our political leanings.
These are just a few of the things we must remind ourselves of even as we wade into the political arena. What are some ways to display our unity and kingdom focus during these times?
As the nominating process draws to a close we can begin to pray for the candidates in both parties. This is both wise and biblical because whomever loses the nomination and eventually the general election will still no doubt hold some position of leadership in this country. Thus in keeping with the scriptural mandate to pray for our leaders let’s be clear to pray for all of them and not just those in our party.
Seek ways to intentionally speak well of those you disagree with and refuse to denigrate those on the other side (whichever side that is).
Mobilize your church or small group to engage your community with acts of service thus demonstrating the reality and blessings of God’s eternal kingdom.
Encourage those who agree with you to maintain the distinction between the temporary kingdom of America and the eternal kingdom of the living God. Encourage them to remember that a loss for their candidate and party is not a setback for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom that gospel proclaims.
If all else fails remember that God’s people have thrived and the kingdom has grown in the face of much worse circumstances than the loss of your chosen candidate. He will not be in the least bit surprised, perturbed or disturbed at the outcome of the USA’s next presidential election. The God who made the heavens and earth and all that is in them is the same God who began and sustained His kingdom through the ungodly and brutal reigns of the Babylonians, Medes-Persians, Greeks and Romans.
Now for those who are still a bit anxious and need some encouragement allow me to leave with the words of king Nebuchadnezzar from Daniel 4:
“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
To Him Who Loves Us...