Yesterday in church we sang,
You have come to save us, Lord/Jesus, you’re the one who saves us/ King of all the other kings on earth
It is the same thing they yelled 2000 years ago, on this very week, throwing palm fronds onto the ground, shouting “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
They called on this man, this messiah on a donkey, to save them. They sought salvation from their Roman oppressors, they sought a revolution, they sought a new kingdom.
And that is what they got. And so much more.
Christ came to establish a Kingdom in which he would reign for all eternity. But it was not a Kingdom that was just for Israel under Roman rule. It was for all humanity under the rule of sin and death. He established a new law, built on the love of God and love of man, and through this platform he initiated a life-giving campaign that is still going strong millennia later. His empire is expanding throughout the world and it will never collapse. Christ has all authority under his feet, and is sovereign Savior and King forevermore.
But, 2000 years later, are we still asking for less? Are we still asking for a new human government? Are we still merely asking for a national leader who will give us power and enact the legislation we want?
In this time of transition of leadership in the States we look to leaders, crying, “Save us!” We seek salvation from terrorists, from immigrants, from poverty, from taxes, from inequality, from government suppression, from religious oppression, and from climate change. We place our whole hope and utter despair on temporary rulers and seek to empower individuals who will bring about an unshakeable nation, perhaps even one that stands for God.
But why would we ask for so little when we already have access to so much more?
We have already been granted salvation from these earthly threats. We have already been brought into an eternal Kingdom. We have already been set free from oppression of the most powerful forces around us.
As Christians, we may participate in government, we may stand for what is right, we may act with justice and seek to bring about legislation that is in our favor if that is best for the nation. But that is not what defines us. That is not what motivates us.That is not what sustains us. That is not why we’re here.
We are here to advance a preexisting Kingdom. It is a Kingdom that transcends and supersedes all other powers. The outcome of votes and coups and wars and inheritances is irrelevant to who is truly in control. But it is how Christians respond to these leaders that communicates our ruler to those who do not know him.
In Christ’ Kingdom there are no walls being built. In Christ’s Kingdom there are no secrets to be hidden. In Christ’s Kingdom everyone has enough. In Christ’s Kingdom there is no debt to be paid. In Christ’s Kingdom there is healing available to all. In Christ’s Kingdom every refugee has access to citizenship. In Christ’s Kingdom every black life matters. In Christ’s Kingdom women are safe and equal. In Christ’s Kingdom minorities have equal representation. In Christ’s Kingdom there is advocacy for justice. In Christ’s Kingdom there is ecological restoration. In Christ’s Kingdom there is hope for all of creation.
And it is not merely hope, but opportunity. Because the Kingdom is not some distant and lofty heavenly place, but the Kingdom is at hand. It is here now. Christ’s Kingdom in this moment is functioning through faith communities to advance throughout the world, bringing darkness into light. It is bringing about spiritual and physical transformation, drawing the world into a restorative process that will one day be completed when God brings us into a renewed fully creation.
Christ is making the world great again. His story, his Spirit, & his Church body are bringing about hope and change. He is moving the world closer to God’s original intent for humanity: that God would walk with man. He is moving us to his light, to his holiness, to his holistic goodness – regardless of which human is in the Oval Office.
Submit to the authorities that are above us, for we are called to peace and love. We are called to maintain a credible name for Christ, so that when we stand for justice we do so blamelessly and with authority. We are called to a ministry of reconciliation, not of partisan stances and bitter rivalries. We are called to share in the sufferings of Christ, a God who subjected himself to human authorities and humbly died because of a power struggle.
But never submit to the idea that those authorities are the end of the line. Christ established a Kingdom that is unshakeable. He is King over all kings, over all presidents, over all senators, all representatives, all prime ministers, all dictators, all theocrats, and all popes.He has been given authority over all things and his Kingdom will outlive all others. And he has instilled his followers today with that power – the power to submit, the power to withstand trial, the power to serve, the power to love those who hate, the power to transform communities for good, the power to enact justice and righteousness, the power to pray on behalf of adversaries, and the power to hope in something far beyond human power structures.
“…that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.” Ephesians 1:18-21