“The Kingdom of God”
By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church
2021 Theme: "You are the Light of the World"
Ye are the light of the world.
Change is all over, in record breaking speed.
The good news today is that nothing has changed for the Christian. In the early New Testament church, as in every day since that first Pentecost, nothing has changed. Fast forward to the 19th and 20th century, and even up til now into the 21st century, we have felt as though we were citizens of an earthly zip code, and indeed we are, but we are first and fundamentally citizens of an eternal kingdom—and it is this kingdom of which nothing has changed, indeed nothing can change.
There’s a song on the radio, called “five more minutes”. One of the lines describes the star senior quarterback standing in the 50 yard line with the coach after the last game, and he says, “I wish I had 5 more minutes.” And the coach says, next time you are in this stadium you will have to buy a ticket. And the song goes on with another scenario. The time frame is interesting, but even more interesting is why the quarterback cannot have that 5 minutes--because he’s no longer part of that world. His status is different and it affects everything. He can go to a game, but can never be part of the team again. Same is true for a graduate of any school. Interesting phenomenon to ponder.
Similarly the Christian is not of the world. We literally are not part of the team. Jesus makes that crystal clear in multiple places, particularly in His high priestly prayer in John 17, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world...They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14,16). You’ve maybe heard the phrase, “in the world, but not of the world.”
Now what is interesting is the clarity of the Bible’s teaching in that we are still to submit to what the Bible calls “civil authorities”. We take for granted what we call ‘government’. But there was not always such a thing as a secular authority or government, as an entity. Most people in civilizations were ruled by a King, or some religious ruler. Probably the Greek’s and Romans were the first civil governments established (even though even Caesar was regarded as a god). Christians were instructed from the beginning to pay taxes, etc—even serve in the military. Read Romans 13:1-7, “Submit yourselves to the governing authorities…”
Our parents and grandparents understood this concept very well. Luther and the other Reformers wrote on this disagreeing on particulars, but still teaching it. Luther called it two kingdom theology.
So back to my original premise, Nothing has changed for the Christian—meaning in our heavenly citizenship, or as Jesus prayed, in the verse I skipped above, verse 15, “I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one.” Wow, we are still here to function. We are still to enter the stadium and cheer on the home team, even though we are not necessarily players on the field.
You say, I get this. Why is it critical now? Could it be we are seeing the very fabric of our beloved USA disintegrate before our very eyes? Sadly, I believe we are. Hearing reports, and discussion about the 2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure bill attempting to make its way through congress right now, this bill will effectively make us a socialistic welfare state. We know ad nauseam about the sexual agendas, and the voter’s rights legislation , etc, etc.
Is it devastating? Well yes, in the sense that I believe the USA has been unique because of how it was framed, including the founding fathers and the founding documents. I want to be clear, the USA is intended to be a secular government. It wasn’t perfect, and the fathers’ themselves weren’t perfect. And though not all were even Christian, they based the Constitution on solid biblical principles. And through all of that this Republic has blessed the world by getting out of the way of the Gospel.
Then on the other hand, we have the church—the other kingdom. We are in the world but not of the world. More than an institution, more than brick and mortar, it is the organic body of the living Christ. Get this, it alone is entrusted with the saving Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is the unique possession of the church—there’s no salvation anywhere in the world, no government anywhere at any time. We have the unique task of telling the world about Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). It is the second kingdom. We do not loose heart.
Are we devastated by the apparent collapses around us? Of course. Will it really fall to destruction? Only God knows. But we are from a different kingdom. Indeed this is the prayer on our lips every week. We literally pray and verbally state this truth weekly or even daily. But are we listening to our own prayer?
The mistake we’ve made is inflating the civil temporal kingdoms to the expense of deflating Christ’s kingdom. We pray seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer all about God our Father’s power, protection, and provision.
Nothing has changed for the Christian in regard to four areas all covered in the Lord’s Prayer:
First, nothing has changed in terms of our security. Too many of us live in fear. We fear economics, various “isms” and rulers. These are all in the realm of the kingdom of men. We fear illness and disease. These are all things of this fallen world.
We pray, “Hallowed be Thy Name.” Luther says “God’s name is indeed holy, but we pray in this petition that it would be hallowed also among us.”
Then before we know it the words “Thy kingdom come.” come off our lips. And Luther says the same, God’s kingdom comes indeed of itself without our prayer; but we pray that it will come among us. So the question is, are we—praying about God’s kingdom? It’s already established! In fact our security is in this settled fact of God’s kingdom.
Or are we living like there is no kingdom? Every king has a kingdom. Maybe we ought to think about what we are praying.
Nothing has changed in terms of our authority. It is a fact that the church is under threats. Certainly as we pray for the believers in the persecuted church, we recognize their earthly peril. Our own society seems to be moving on. And church attendance it seems is at an all time low. But wouldn’t the third petition in the Lord’s prayer address this? What is God’s Kingly will? Every confirmed member of our church should know the answer without looking.
Nothing has changed in terms of our liberty. We are servants, as well as sons and daughters so we are as has been said, slaves to none and servants to all.
Nothing has changed in terms of our ministry. We experience reconciliation with God, and our fellow men, and preach that all can be reconciled with God by the shed blood of Christ on Calvary’s cross.
If you feel your world is falling apart, you are living in the wrong world. The Kingdom of God is unscratched, and unaffected by anything on earth. How do we close? “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory for ever and ever. Amen”
That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit