To Whom Do We Look To?

Luke 23:1-3 NASB
“Then the entire assembly of them set out and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to bring charges against Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.” Now Pilate asked Him, saying, “So You are the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you say.”

John 18:37 NASB
“Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this purpose I have been born, and for this I have come into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.”

Revelation 19:16 NASB
“And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Sometimes I think we just don’t get it. We say we do, but the manner in which we sometimes live our lives, just doesn’t add up to the reality of who Jesus says He is and what He has promised those of us who believe and trust in Him.

Some of you have probably noticed that I’ve been talking about the Kingdom of God a fair bit as of late. I’ve been praying about this a lot because I see so many indicators where our current focus is, and how it is at odds or contrasts with what we read about in the New Testament.

This is especially true when one includes politics, power and gaining or maintaining control. And I do understand the practical reality of living in this world. Obviously we do have to make a living and we do have responsibilities towards the political processes of the government that we live under, plus our adherence to the Rule of Law, that does not violate our conscience of obedience towards following God’s will.

The New Testament does provide us with an overview and specifics on how we should conduct ourselves, in this world that we live in. But God’s Holy Word also tells us in numerous instances to be in the world, but not of the world.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:8 “The one who steals must no longer steal; but rather he must labor, producing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with the one who has need.” And we are instructed to acknowledge and show respect to those in authority over us. Romans 13:1-7 refers. Living under Roman authority was no walk in the park, yet Paul penned these Scriptural guidelines, knowing full well how harsh, unjust and demanding Roman rule could be.

Does one see any objection to the institution of slavery under Roman rule, within the New Testament? No we do not, even though God does not condone slavery. Gotquestions.org has a good summary on this issue which you can read here. . What Paul does provide is instruction on how a slave should act towards his or her master with the accompanying overview that in Christ, there is neither slave nor free, because we are all one in Christ. Galatians 3:28 refers. What is the bigger picture that Paul sees, that we too often fail to see?

I would submit that what we too often fail to see is that this world that we live in is not what is vitally important, and even if we live or die is not really important, because ultimately, God is in control, but rather what is of the greatest importance is that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God. We march to a different drum or at least we should. Our King is Jesus and our truth is the truth that Jesus came to give us. The Apostle Paul even spells it out for us when he likens us to soldiers in the army of God. Read what he says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:4: “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him.” And when we became Christians, who enlisted us? That would be Jesus!

If you were present when the Apostles witnessed the resurrected Jesus, and the realization of what exactly Jesus’ resurrected body and person authenticated, broke through to every fibre of your mind, body and spirit, do you really believe that whether you were a slave or free would matter to you at all? What matters is that we know Jesus is the Son of God and because we believe and trust in Him, He told us that because He lives, we shall also live. What we are talking about here is a completely transforming realization that literally changes everything.

Why is what we see and read in the New Testament, so different from what we see and hear today, in a good sized portion of the visible Christian Church? Why is it that we are now very divided and knee deep into slinging stones at others, not to mention, how many frequently voice their objections to having rights taken away? I could be wrong but I think we’ve shifted our focus from the reality of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness to the kingdoms of this earth, and our own righteousness, exactly what Jesus told us not to do.

Maybe you disagree? I would then ask you the following two questions. Did Israel reject God as their King? 1 Samuel 8:5 and 1 Samuel 8:7 refers. And how did that turn out when they leaned on their own understanding? Have we lost sight of our King and replaced His Kingdom and His priorities with our own? And how are our endeavours turning out? Jesus is our King for a reason.

The long and the short of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that God our Father has redeemed us through His Son, if we will but believe and trust in what Jesus has done for us and that literally changes everything. And whether we live or whether we die, if we believe and trust in Jesus, we are the Lord’s. And if we are in the world and rather than being apart from the world, we have in fact, become yet once again, one with the world, we are indeed, missing the whole purpose behind why God sent us His Son. God the Father is redeeming to Himself, those who will believe and trust in the accomplished work of His Son. And because Jesus lives, we shall also live, even though we die.

That is the big picture, being in the world but not of the world, and all that it entails. The smaller picture, the “less than” picture and all that it entails, is being in the world and of the world. There is a reason why we are told to focus on Jesus. He is our risen King. The writers of the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament testified of our risen Lord and they never forgot that, but sadly, far too many today have.

Maybe, just maybe, that is why Jesus said that without Him we could do nothing (John 15:5).

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

25 comments

  1. “I could be wrong but I think we’ve shifted our focus from the reality of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness to the kingdoms of this earth, and our own righteousness, exactly what Jesus told us not to do.”

    You nailed it. Great post, Bruce.

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  2. I suppose I haven’t thought about how others, whether Christians or politicians think or act or speak. We still live in the greatest country on Earth, but it is not our Home.
    As long as we are Listening to God,with humility and showing love to one another, we are fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. God is in control and if we shine our lights to show others the way, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

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  3. Does the Christian become entangled in the worldly/temporal or do they focus on the spiritual/eternal? Bruce, I appreciate how you continue to challenge Christians on this point because soooooo many follow the worldly/temporal route.

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    • Thanks Tom. The reasons why we get entangled are many and complex, especially when we allow secondary considerations we also need to focus on, to replace our primary focus. I’m reminded of Gideon, who was a Judge over Israel from 1145 to 1105 B.C. He was used by God to free the people from a hated enemy and he was so successful in battle that the people wanted to make him king! Gideon, in an act of humility, reminded the people that he could never rule over them as they already had the Lord governing them. “But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.” (Judges 8:23 NASB). Yet later, God in His wisdom, gave Israel what they asked for, knowing full well that they had rejected Him as their King. That is a critical shift in history that we somehow have missed. Kind of smacks of the Garden of Eden, when you stop to think about it. I marvel at God’s patience and wonder if anyone had this in mind when it was decided to separate Church and State away back when. Clearly above my pay grade but it sure has produced a can of worms. Blessings Tom.

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      • Thanks, Bruce. It’s disappointing that the early Reformers fell into the same church-state trap propagated by the RCC, but considering what they were up against, it was enough that they reclaimed the New Testament Gospel of grace.

        But that was 500 years ago. It’s well past the time to ditch the paradigm embracing the conflation of church and state. Your example of Israel demanding a king is spot on.

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      • I know what you mean Tom but I’m pretty sure that there are more of us than we figure. Remember God’s grace and keep your sense of humour (which you do)! Some glorious day we shall meet. I’ll be the one grinning from ear to ear! Blessings brother!

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      • Thanks, Bruce! I’m looking forward to meeting you! That will be a great day! It occurs to me that not one single soul in Heaven will be desiring to talk about their national ties.

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      • See! Now you’re going to get me going! It’s beyond impossible trying to imagine the apostle Paul wearing a MAGA hat, it’s antithetical to the Gospel he was preaching, but somehow, Christian Nationalists are easily able to conceive of it.

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      • Well we don’t want to get you going Tom! I heartily agree but . . . (don’t you just love those words) I copied this verse to my ipad to remind myself of the decorum that I need to set, which it would appear I (key word coming) “momentarily” lapsed in:

        James 3:15-18 NASB

        “13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” I’m trusting that Jesus has a sense of humour as in (Sons of Thunder) funny.

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      • Thanks for the passage, Bruce! Yup, we need to keep a gracious perspective. While I can’t imagine the apostle Paul condoning the MAGA paradigm, I also can’t imagine him doing some of the very dumb things I’ve done.

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      • Ditto on that! You and I should call Gary and go camping with fireside “discussions” optional! Well . . . they really wouldn’t be optional. You have yourself a blessed day Tom, you definitely had me smiling!

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