Is the Western Church Seeking His Kingdom Or Our Own?

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Today marks 27 days past the election day, officially. No this isn’t me drumming up some political post to validate my political beliefs in the name of Jesus. However, I can affirm that the election has led me to write this post. To be frank, I’ve struggled with writing this. I had various titles I was going to use and several different directions I wanted to navigate down. Every time though, the Holy Spirit lovingly corrected me to ensure that I was writing His words and not my own. To ensure that I would articulate both truth and grace, with grace leading the way always. To ensure I wasn’t casting stones and cultivating a heart of self-righteousness. To make sure I wasn’t leaving any blind spots unattended.

It’s 2020 and it’s no secret that we are in some of the most heated racial and political times. If we’ve unlearned and relearned anything, it’s that history tells us this country very much has a race issue and has so for a long time. There are blind spots systematically and ideologically against people of color we’ve left unchecked far too long. We are far more divided in our beliefs which has led extremist opinions leaving our hearts calloused towards one another.

Through the unfolding of these events, if I’ve learned anything in addition to, it’s now no secret that the American Church as a whole has a pride issue. Apparently for a long time.

I’ve watched members of the Church fall to the floor and worship their political idols. Defending a man with a shamelessly questionable character all for a singular issue as if Jesus fits into either political party. We run to the American flag faster than we run to the cross. It seems as if some know the Constitution and Bill of Rights better than they know Scripture, let alone Jesus. We idolize comfort and a false sense of freedom at the expense of the Gospel and eternity. We’ve thrown stones, ugly ones with name calling, at those who disagree with us politically. We cry persecution when some in our country, who bear the right to be free of religion, verbally oppose our faith. Have we forgotten that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ elsewhere are experiencing physical torture and death for their faith?

I’ve watched thousands of mask-less Christians gather at large outdoor worship concerts exceeding capacity limits. Apparently this global pandemic that has robbed over 200k people’s lives and cases that have overflowed hospital beds, is all just a hoax. Make no mistake, I live fearlessly in this life because I know where I’ll be when I take my final breath on earth. However, I’m a strong believer in serving my neighbor before my inconvenience.

I’ve watched members pray harder over election ballots than they have humans. I’ve seen “prophets” prophesy their thoughts and wants before God’s. As someone who believes in an invisible God and a resurrection, can anyone explain to me what exactly Paula White was doing calling for “the African angels”? It seems as if conspiracy theories have become truth over God’s word and His voice.

I’ve also seen the other side’s refusal to pray for Trump while he was in office. I too have been guilty of this. Yes, we’re called to do that and no it’s probably not popular in 2020. We’re called to lay down our opinions and thoughts for His, because at the end of the day, Trump is still an image bearer desperately in need of Jesus.

A lot of ugliness has surfaced out of the Church this season, which has posed this question to me: as a whole, has the Western Church been seeking His Kingdom or ours? I’ve really had to ponder on this question as someone who grew up in the Church. Is this just the evidence of bad religion and tradition that wore out its welcome? Are these the consequences for making deceptive comfort our idol?

John 18:36-37 “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

If you’re at all familiar with the story of Jesus’s death, you’ll remember that Jesus was moments away from being sentenced to death after this dialogue. The irony of Pilate’s response to Jesus was that his perspective on a “king” seemed to be no different than those who were chanting for Jesus’s execution. Man’s view of a king and kingdom didn’t match God’s. Why? Because God didn’t send His son to establish an earthly kingdom but to build His.

God’s kingdom was to seek and save the lost. His plan would be accomplished through the cross, making a way for all and anyone to have full access to the Father through Jesus. He would build His kingdom through people of all colors, backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities that would match Heaven where every tribe and tongue surround His throne. That’s why the Pharisees and religious leaders who sat high and pretty above the poor and oppressed, were confused by Jesus eating with the least of these. They sneered at Jesus befriending sinners and teaching the truth that led with grace first. Make no mistake, they knew the Torah and Old Testament Scripture well but they missed the heart of God completely. They struck out so badly that the Messiah they were awaiting was standing in their presence.

John 2: 18-20 “The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body.”

The Church was never about a building or policies, it was always about people. Our first command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. Notice there’s zero additions to who and what we’re supposed to love. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Notice the word “unless” is no where to be found in that command.

I’m grateful to live in a country that offers me the freedom to voice my opinion, speak up and out for justice, and vote. However, America is not my home; eternity is. When I speak up for justice, and stand up for the least of these it’s because injustice has no place in eternity. When I speak against other image bearers being treated less than, it’s because they are not less than in God’s eyes. How I speak to and about people who live and think differently than me is how I’m speaking about God since He created them.

I listened to a podcast over the weekend of a sermon preached by Louie Giglio, the lead pastor for Passion City Church. He talked about how Christians ought to live with both patience and urgency during these times. The line that struck me during his message was “pack accordingly”.

So I offer this question to any fellow Christian reading this: are we fighting to unpack for the sake of comfort or are we packing accordingly for the sake of the Kingdom and what’s to come? Are we living fully for Jesus, and with intentionality to see every person in our lives in eternity? Or have we allowed pride to speak self righteousness over us pushing more image bearers away from our Creator? Are we making room at the table regardless of where they’re from, who they are, and who they voted for? Do our lives look like we’re building His kingdom or ours?

One Kingdom will stand and prosper, the other will fall as every earthly one does. Eternity isn’t singing the National Anthem, but it is singing “worthy is the lamb”. It is Jesus who meets you at the gates of Heaven, not your favorite President. You will give an account to God as to how you lived your life and built His kingdom; not who you voted for.

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