“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight… but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).
On January 6, 2021, protestors and rioters “fought” their way into the United States capitol building in order to fight for the kingdom they felt was being stolen away, the democratic nation of the United States. Many of these individuals were Christians, holding signs that invoked God and Jesus and proclaiming that “God” was with them as they fought to save His kingdom. One man had a large wooden cross. Another held a sign that read “Hold the line Patriots, GOD WINS.” A huge banner was hung over the portico, saying “Jesus 2020”, as if Christ was running for political office. Others had bright yellow signs proclaiming, “Jesus Saves.”
Imagine for a moment that some of these Christians at the riot were actually missionaries in a foreign land. While they were there as missionaries an election occurred that they believed was “stolen” or “fraudulent”. How many of these Christians would fight against the political leadership of that foreign country? Or would they keep doing their missionary work, trying to share the gospel with as many as possible, without alienating the locals by wading into partisan politics? We sing “This World Is Not My Home, I’m Just A Passing Through,” but do we really believe it?
As I looked at pictures and videos of the protest with all these Christian “symbols” and expressions in the crowd, I recalled the words that Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight...” (John 18:36). He said, “Would Fight”. In other words, Christian’s don’t fight for a worldly kingdom because God’s kingdom is heavenly.
Like the “Christian” rioters, when Christ came to this world, Israel was looking for a Savior that would set them free from the political power of the day — The Roman Empire. They were looking to restore the glory of Israel as in the days of David and Solomon. Even Christ’s disciples were looking for the wrong kingdom. After Jesus fed the five thousand, his disciples and followers “were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king” (John 6:15). Perceiving this, Jesus immediately “made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away” (Matthew 14:22). Israel was looking for the wrong Savior. They wanted a Savior to set them free from external oppression, not a Savior to set them free from internal sin. The people cared more about the current state of things in the world, then the current state of things in their hearts. Jesus understood this and stated: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8). The people were only interested in a Savior that served their own selfish purposes, so much so that they were going to “help” Jesus by forcing Him to be their earthly king. Thus, they missed the Promised One that came.
Are you looking for the right Kingdom?
It would be a tragedy to make the same mistake as the people of Jesus day and miss the Promised One to come. But we don’t have to. The Bible tells us exactly how we can be part of the heavenly kingdom. In Mark 12:34 Jesus told a lawyer that he was “not far from the kingdom of God.” How was he so near? Was he fighting for Jesus? Was he rioting in protest of the injustices of the day? Was he telling Jerusalem to, “Hold the line Patriots, GOD WINS”? None of these. Instead, he was “loving God with all his heart… and loving his neighbor as himself” (Mark 12:33).
God’s kingdom is a kingdom of love! If you love one another, you will be part of His kingdom. John 13:35. But “If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 John 4:20).
Call to Action
We can’t hate political rivals, contentious coworkers, or the antagonistic neighbor. We must love as Christ loved, He who gave his life even for his enemies. If we do this, we won’t be fighting and rioting for a worldly kingdom, but helping others see the true kingdom. And we too will be “not far from the kingdom of God.”
All scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.