As Christians, we are to be disciples of Jesus. Simply put, this means we are to try to be like Him. We are told we are sons & daughters of the King, a royal priesthood, representatives of Christ, and implementers of His kingdom – here, “on Earth as it is in Heaven”.
Yet in our day to day lives few of us aspire to, or even act like we have, this high calling.
Just like the Israelites who would doubt God time and time again, we doubt that the teachings of Jesus will actually work in this world.
Instead of being a bold witness to His ways, we have become a complacent and fearful people.
We refuse to take the personal risk of living out what He said. We want laws and government to do the job for us so we can feel safe and comfortable even though that is the exact opposite of what Jesus said his followers would experience.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33
He is not promising us an earthly peace, but His peace which passes understanding. Peace in the midst of fear, of disaster, of violence around us.
Empires, powers, and principalities of this world make laws and rules to protect those empires and to protect their power. They are “of this world”.
For decades now, we Christians have been colluding with the enemy instead of working against it. To what end? It hasn’t gained us anything! In fact, it has only made those powers stronger and us more reliant on them – sometimes to the point of idolatry. This partnership has not, and will not, do what it promised. It will not end abortion. It will not make the world safer. It will definitely not protect our “Christian values” – many of which we have already sacrificed on its alter.
Sleeping with the enemy has left us impotent in the ways of Kingdom living.
We are not living the peacemaking way of Jesus, we are promoting wars and buying guns to protect ourselves.
We are not welcoming the immigrant, we are trying to keep them out or send them back – even to places they have never known or lived or to regimes that will likely kill them because they are fellow Christians. Apparently we think it is worth it for our own false sense of security.
We are not loving our neighbors. We are allowing divisiveness and prejudice to run rampant in our world and even within the church.
We are not caring for the poor and for the widow. We sometimes make a show of helping in the way we think is best for them but we are not listening to them, we are not willing to support programs that help them if it might cost us a few more dollars in taxes that we could spend on ourselves.
We seem to have completely forgotten, or have just chosen to ignore, that Jesus never said follow me and you will be happy, safe, and comfortable. What He did say is:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 *
Until we can honestly admit that the American dream of more money, more power, and more success is in opposition to the Kingdom of God where all are welcome, where we are our brother’s keeper, and where we are not ruled by fear but by love, we will never be able to grasp living as a true disciple of Jesus.
I’ve been asking myself these questions for a while now. I invite you to ask them too.
- What did I do this week to bring Kingdom here, now?
- What did I do this week that required courage – that caused me to risk my reputation, my safety, or even just my comfort for the benefit of “the least of these”?
- Where am I relying on the things or the powers of this world instead of relying on God?
* I love The Message version of this full verse in context:
31-33 Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”