Friday, October 21, 2016

IS JESUS KING OF ANYTHING? REALLY?



The Gospel was once considered a threat to those who held political power.

When Paul and the other apostles started preaching about Jesus there were often riots because they were “….all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” [Acts 17:7]

There was no doubt about it. This Gospel was dangerous. 

Jesus was a serious threat to status quo.

City officials and the crowds were thrown into turmoil over this subversive man. [See Acts. 17:8]

Those who accepted his message were arrested and tortured because of it.

Many went to their death because they refused to hail Caesar as Lord. They were burned alive shouting, “We have no King but Jesus!”

The line between following Christ and following the political systems of this world used to be unmistakable.

But not anymore.

Today, those who claim to follow Jesus may loudly proclaim that “Jesus Is Lord!” but they don’t mean that Jesus stands opposed to political powers.

They may have a “King Jesus” bumper sticker on their Lexus, but they don’t act as if Jesus is their choice for ruling their world.

A Christian in the first century knew vividly that their loyalty to Caesar was forfeited now that they had surrendered everything to their new King, Jesus.

Early Christian teachers spoke often about this shift in loyalty. 

As Tertullian wrote to the Romans around the year 195:

“In us, all zeal in the pursuit of glory and honor is dead. So we have no pressing inducement to take part in your public meetings, nor is there anything more entirely foreign to us than the affairs of State.”

Origen also wrote to Celsus in an attempt to explain the peculiar Christian practice of noninvolvement with Roman politics, saying:

"It is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God – for the salvation of men. And this service is at once necessary and right."

He also explains to Celsus that those who follow Christ recognize another, higher authority than the State and that because of this they urge their brightest and best to apply their wisdom and talents and qualities of leadership to further the more urgent and necessary work of the Kingdom of God:

"We recognize in each state the existence of another national organization [the Church], founded by the Word of God, and we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over Churches. Those who are ambitious of ruling we reject; but we constrain those who, through excess of modesty, are not easily induced to take a public charge in the Church of God. And those who rule over us well are under the constraining influence of the great King, whom we believe to be the Son of God, God the Word. And if those who govern in the Church, and are called rulers of the divine nation -- that is, the Church -- rule well, they rule in accordance with the divine commands, and never suffer themselves to be led astray by worldly policy."

To Origen, and Tertullian, and every other Christian in those first 300 years of the Untangled Church, the issue was clear and the differences were distinct: Those who were citizens of the Kingdom of God were uninterested in the politics of men.

Why? Because they already had a King. His name was Jesus. They had already pledged their loyalty to another nation. It was called the Kingdom of God.

Try to imagine if Jesus were the King of your life in the same way that He was King over the lives of those early Christians who defied Caesar to the point of death and who pledged allegiance to "another King, one called Jesus."

What would that look like? How would it change the way you live today?

I wonder, if those early Christians could see the Church in America today, what would they conclude?

Would they assume that, to us, Jesus is really only "King" in a metaphorical sense? 

Or would they see a Church that was under the absolute authority of Christ? 

Would they see Christians who loved their enemies, welcomed the stranger, cared for the hungry, showed compassion to the prisoner, and forgave those who spoke against them?

Or is Jesus only King in a metaphorical sense?

If Jesus is your King, are you putting His words into practice?

Or are you still searching for another political ruler who can provide security, and comfort, and prosperity?

Jesus was pretty clear about the fact that we cannot serve two masters.

Cast your ballot.

-kg
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NOTE: My new book, "Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb" is coming soon. Stay tuned for more info.




1 comment:

Milt Rodriguez said...

Keep preaching it brother, we're with you!