Sunday October 16, 2016 | Greg Boyd
The Israelites said to Samuel, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord, and the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
1 Samuel 8:19-20
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
This weekend Greg taught about the difference between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God. In the kingdom of God, Jesus is our King (and president) and followers are marked by their indiscriminate love and refusal to rule over others. During this election cycle believers are called to put their trust in Jesus alone and not be pulled into trusting in the rulers of this world.
This sermon began with a short video on the biblical nature of being created in the image of God. In the beginning God created humans in His image to help rule over creation and co-create with Him. Unfortunately, because of human sin people have been defining good and evil for themselves. Fortunately, Jesus came and showed us a new way to be human, giving us His divine life and power through the Holy Spirit.
Greg began his sermon by sharing how many Americans are feeling worried by this election cycle. Yet, Christians do not need to be worried about the current state of politics because we are not part of the kingdom of this world. He went on to explain that a kingdom is a domain where a king rules. In the begin humans were made to rule the domain of earth, but not to rule over each other. This is evidenced by God’s work through Israel. Originally God intended to be the king of Israel and put on display His good intentions to the rest of the nations through Israel. However, in 1 Samuel 8 Israel chooses an earthly king over God. In doing so, Israel was rejecting God as their king.
For us today, trusting in human rulers is the same as rejecting God as the ruler of our lives. We can’t serve two masters. In other words, you can’t trust in human rulers and God at the same time. All human rulers and governments, are based in a ruling over others and not on the fundamentals of the Kingdom of God where indiscriminate love reigns.
To be a Christian is to put your trust in God and not in any government, not even the American government. When we step out of the dome where Jesus rules we are stepping into a place where God’s enemy rules. In the Bible, Satan is said to be the ruler of this world, the god of this age, the principality and power of the air, and the destroyer. All governments in some shape or former are part of Satan’s kingdom. This is not to say that every government is equally bad, but rather that all are under an evil influence. Because of this Christians should never put their trust in anyone/anything other than Jesus alone as Lord. Jesus is to be our sole source of hope, joy, security, identity, and love.
As Christians we are called to be aliens in this world and ambassadors or missionaries for Christ. Ambassadors are not to get overly focused on other countries’ affairs and likewise we should be focused on the affairs of the Kingdom of God. As members of the Kingdom of God our president is Jesus Christ, who is King of Kings and LORD of Lords.
Practically speaking, this means that every believer must decided for themselves how they will interact with politics. Sometimes, things associated with our government (e.g. voting, standing for the pledge of allegiance, etc.) can become a type of civic religion. For instance, voting is not necessarily wrong as long as believers’ trust is in Jesus and we are not getting pulled into the world’s kingdom. A great way to test this is to ask ourselves, “do I find myself feeling hostile towards people who don’t agree with my political opinions?” Or “Do I feel anxiety of fearful about this?”
Isaiah 26:3 promises that we will have steadfast peace when we trust in the Lord. So, will you make a choice to let go of trust in the kingdom of this world and instead trust in Jesus?