Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (9) God's Empire

Preston Sprinkle explains in his book called Fight how Jesus came to set up God's empire.

The most daring word that Jesus throws at Pilate is the term kingdom. As I said, this was the typical Greek term used for the Roman Empire. And it’s the same word that Jewish freedom fighters would use when they tried to oust Rome and set up their own empire (as the Maccabees did). Kingdom, therefore, cannot be reduced to individual salvation, or some immaterial religious experience. If Jesus’s kingdom was restricted to individuals or the spiritual realm, He would use a different word. But He doesn’t. He uses the word kingdom. He uses the word empire. Jesus seeks to set up God’s empire on earth, and it will look different from Rome and the Maccabees in one crucial aspect: Jesus’s empire will not come about through physical fighting. It will be a demilitarized empire where enemies are loved and offenders are forgiven

Jesus’s not-of-this-world kingdom is shaped by nonviolence. This doesn’t always stand out to us, but no Jew in the first century would have missed the radical nature of Jesus’s claim. In a world where king and kingdom were synonymous with coercion, power, and violence , Jesus’s upside-down kingdom stuck out like a baseball team with no bats, or a megachurch with no sound system or comfy chairs. But that’s precisely the point. As God’s reign on earth is enacted through nonviolence, the power of God rather than the power of humans is showcased for all to see (Fight chapter 6).

Something is wrong when the kingdom of God is indistinguishable from that of the world. Christians should contribute to the good of the nation in which they live (Jer. 29: 7). But we are first and foremost citizens of Jesus’s kingdom spread throughout the world. We have more in common with Christians in other nations— nations our country may war against— than we do with neighbors who share the same passport. When nations war against other nations, this critical point gets snuffed out.

It’s sad when American Christians talk about “us” and “them” and use these identity markers solely in terms of different national identities. But “we”— the kingdom of God in America and Iraq— have suffered greatly. Citizens of God’s kingdom did not win the war. We lost (Fight chapter 6)

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