Can we stop putting our hope of salvation in a human politician, authoritarian figure or a general now? I look through history and pretty much what I see is a record of near constant death, war, destruction and failure. But hey, maybe we’ve just tried the wrong person, right?
Are we really any different than the people waving palms at Jesus at the gate of Jerusalem? They wanted a savior on their terms. And what were their terms? A military hero who would ride in on a white horse to kill the occupiers and those who would rule them, those who were a threat to their way of living, those who believed differently. All so that this type of savior could set up a kingdom that would enslave and kill the oppressors – ie become that which the people hated, only they’d be the one in power and in control.
We haven’t changed in 2000 years. If we are honest with ourselves, we still want this. We want out leader to be the strongest, the one who will make the military strong and make the nation great. We want a leader who will put our enemies in their place or better yet, kill them, so that we can revel in the glory of battle – we want blood. We want a leader who can evoke God’s name on behalf our nation, a self-proclaimed chosen people of God, where we can wrap God in the flag of patriotism and use God to smite our enemies. Kind of like all the other great nations that have gone before us – Rome, Greece, Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Britain, Russia, etc.
We still want the military hero or a strong leader that the people at the gate of Jerusalem yearned for 2000 years ago. And Jesus is still disappointing us by not being that type of leader. Instead, he’s offering an alternative – not the alternative of trading places with Rome either. No the alternative is a completely different kingdom, with a different set of rules about citizenship, peace, grace, love and forgiveness. A kingdom that actually transforms the world and all the people. A kingdom that heals and restores and rehabilitates.
Instead, we trade this in, not believing it really. It sounds too good to be true, so it must be false. We pay lip service to our beliefs about the Kingdom of God and trade in our beliefs so can follow what we really believe – faith in a flawed system because at least we know what we are getting. We can have a sense of control. We can control what we are angry and fearful about. What a way to live!
Does this mean we should abandon government and politics? By no means. But these things should not take precedence in our lives and thoughts and hearts. Those things belong to God. Let me ask you a question – how much time do you spend concerned over what the President or your Senator or Representative or Governor said today? How much time did you spend concerned about what God has to say? Are you waiting with baited breath to hear the latest pronouncement out of Washington or some campaign every day, but kind of cranky when the pastor preaches past 12 minutes, once a week, if you show up that often? How much of your week is inundated with the speeches, rhetoric, mantras and slogans of campaigns and political parties? How much of you week do you willingly listen and talk with God?
What if we actually started living out what we say Christianity teaches? What if we showed grace and respect to those we disagree with? Yeah, you reading this, who just posted a meme on facebook bashing those supporting the opposing candidate. Oh wait, you thought others were supposed to show grace and respect to you first.
What if we forgave our enemies? Or did you think forgiveness started with someone else who was clearly wrong and wronged you?
What if we asked for forgiveness for ourselves from others? What if we loved those who seem unlovable because they are so different from ourselves? Or is everyone just supposed to change and be like us because we’re considered normal?
What if we actually let go of this human desire to control our surroundings and those around us? What if?
What if we really followed Christ? It would be scary. It would feel like we were free falling without a parachute. It would change our lives, and not in ways we might want. It might even mean death. Those are costly things. You’re probably thinking – Way to sell it Matthew.
Yet, that’s what Christianity is really about. I think that for too long we’ve pushed aside the radicalness and transformativeness of Jesus because it’s beyond uncomfortable – the message is one that we really can’t control. But unleash it and get out the way and look out – things change, people change. That might be too much for some. Then again, it might just change lives for the better and change the world in ways we could only imagine and ways that we can’t control. It might be described as the onset of the Kingdom of God.
Or we could just keep doing what we’ve been doing throughout human history. It’s worked so well up to this point, hasn’t it?