On his blog “Confessions of a Former Preacher,” Dan Bouchelle shares a powerful post entitled “Jesus vs. the Powers.” It is a must read from anyone who is serious about the Kingdom of God. I want to share a portion of his article with you in light of today’s election in the United States.
From Dan’s Blog
“What if the church was intended to be political in a new way? What if we are intended to be a people who live a different way because we serve a different king? What if Jesus really is Lord of Lords and King of Kings right now? What if he really does sit on the throne and is working in history? What if the Kingdom of God is not just about the after life but is actually coming into this world now as the church? What if we are supposed to be an attractive alternative to the world instead of forcing this world to change against its will by the exercise of our collective political power? What if Paul meant what he said about us being citizens of heaven who await a savior from there instead of looking for a savior to ride into Washington D.C. on a white horse? The world might just respect us instead of thinking we hate them. The world might actually come to believe God loves the world.
“That kind of thinking could be dangerous: but then the God of the Bible and his word has often been viewed as seditious because it is. Whether dealing with Pharaoh or Caesar, the Biblical witness stands against empire on principle and rebukes any empires which attempt to get their citizens to swear total allegiance. Jesus did not get killed for introducing new religion or for teaching people to be good little boys and girls. Jesus got killed for claiming to be Lord and King of a new order of humanity called the Kingdom of God. He drew the wrath of the state for claiming religion and government should serve people instead of people serving religion and government. He was executed for claiming God’s kingdom (God’s nation) was breaking into the world now and it alone deserves our complete allegiance.
“God’s kingdom flew in the face of the Roman empire’s desire to control everything and hold on to power at all costs. Early Christians were killed because they said “Jesus is Lord” and refused to say Caesar is lord. They claimed the government of all the nations of the world are part of a corrupt system infested with sin that uses power to control and oppress people while serving leaders and the privileged at the expense of the masses. They claimed neither Caesar or any other mere human ruler was in control of history or deserved total allegiance. They claimed God was in control of history and was working behind the scenes to bring history to his intended conclusion. While they would pray for their country and be law abiding citizens, where it did not conflict with loyalty to Jesus way of life, they could not bow to the empire or swear allegiance to any king but Jesus. That is why they were killed. They were dangerous and uncontrollable.
“Throughout the centuries, human governments have tried two strategies to deal with the danger of Jesus followers – both bad. 1. Persecute them–drive underground with the fear of suffering and/or death. 2. Co-opt them–convince them to serve the nation’s interests by offering influence in exchange for compromise. Which approach do you think our government uses? It works well doesn’t it? We do not live in Ancient Rome, the old USSR, or China where Christians are directly targeted as the enemy. Our government is far better than these extreme examples. But if we think the agenda of any party is that of Jesus we are tragically deceived.
“We too live in a nation that wants to run world like a god and looks out for it’s own interests above those of God’s kingdom. If you think our government is not filled with corruption and drunk on power, you are not paying attention. We don’t have time for an in-depth study of government in scripture, but in summary, there are 4 core ideas about the powers of this world (and here I borrow from my friend Lee Camp)
The powers are created by God as good–to bring order and some measure of justice to the world (Rom 13:1-7)
The powers are fallen–in rebellion to created purpose (1 Cor. 2:6-8). Behind the powers is “ruler of the Kingdom of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Remember Satan offered to give Jesus all Kingdoms of earth. Instead of serving human good, the powers tend to enslave humans and make them dependent on the “empire” instead of God.
The powers are used by God even in their fallen state of rebellion during this time when the world is under the curse of sin – but that does not excuse them for their evils (cf. Habakkuk).
The dominion of powers was broken by the work of Christ (Col. 2:13-15).
“We have the choice of living above the powers of the world or under them. We should be respectful and obedient were we can, but we have seen that the emperor has no clothes and don’t trust him. While we will pray for peace and the prosperity of our nation and love our nation, but we will look to Jesus alone as savior or the world, not the president. Rather than trying to fix this world with power, we’ll serve the world like Jesus as testimony to our faith while we trust him to fix world in his time. We can and should speak truth to the powers because we don’t have to be afraid of them–they can kill us but Jesus can raise us.
“So what does all of this mean for the election? It means that the future of the world does not hinge on who gets elected because Jesus is Lord. It means no government can fix what is wrong with our world. It means that the battle will not be won or lost at the ballot box. It means that we cannot trust any political party to represent our concerns or advance our agenda as followers of Jesus.”