Squeezing Jesus into Babylon

I have written about 1000 words trying to get to this point and have yet to say anything meaningful or worth your time. My range of emotions and ideas has gone from grumpy to grumpier. Some of my more cynical thoughts have been about God’s Kingdom and the kingdoms of the world. Of course, I have had a few jabs about politics and economics (because I know so much about both). My constant refrain is, “I am a pastor for a reason.” I have never let a lack of knowledge get in the way of my opinions.

Jesus-on-Cross1
Jesus on the Cross

This Easter season has me thinking about some of my opinions and my grumpiness. I have had to ask myself, “why am I so grumpy?” Two major things came to mind. First, a lot of things I hold dear are getting challenged by God, especially how I understanding living a Christian life while living in America. That is constantly on my mind. What does it mean to be a Christian living in America? Second, a lot of what I am reading is causing me to rethink how I talk about Jesus.

The first one is a real challenge. I love living in this country, warts and all. For all of this countries flaws, it is still my home. However, I am more and more convinced that my dual-citizenship idea of old is being replaced. I have one enduring citizenship and that is in the Kingdom of God. At best, I have a visa and not citizenship in this country.

The biblical writers would use Babylon to talk about any Empire that was the power of the day. In Revelation it referred to Rome. How do we live in Babylon and remain true to our following of Jesus Christ? I think I have been trying to squeeze Jesus into Babylon so I can have the best of both worlds. Which leads me to the second issue.

How do I understand Jesus? Some Christians would say that Jesus is an advocate for Socialism. I have heard some preachers preach for Jesus the Capitalist. A friend of mine would say that the Kingdom is not about Socialism, Capitalism or any other “ism” but about generosity. In other words, we/I keep trying to get Jesus to fit into my understanding of the world instead of the other way around.

Jesus told Pilate that the Kingdom of God does not function like the kingdoms of the earth. He is a king. He just isn’t a king like Pilate, and us, understand kings.

Kings use power and might and violence to ensure peace and prosperity. Kings use laws and edicts to get conformity and keep control.

I’m not saying rules and laws are bad. But, anything that uses coercion or strength to dominate someone else does not fit the Jesus I see in Scripture. Jesus wanted inward transformation far more than outward conformity. Any system of government that allows leaders to demand that we do what they say under penalty of law and then allows those same leaders to live differently than those they lead, does not look like Jesus. It certainly isn’t how I see the Kingdom breaking in.

This Easter I encountered a King that said, “Do as I do.” He washed feet (the lowest of lows for a job). He ate with the respectable and despicable. He forgave and restored. He laughed and cried. He engaged the world. He didn’t boycott it.

What do my actions have to say about how I am living the Kingdom of God? What do my actions say about how I am representing Christ?

This Easter I have been challenged to see Jesus differently. I am going to make efforts to have the difficult conversations. I am going to walk with people and try to understand them better. I will attempt to live at peace with everyone. This is hard work because there will be friction. However, my few attempts have yielded so much joy and peace that it is totally worth it.

What will this Easter Season bring for you? My prayer is that you are shaken up and challenged to look at your Kingdom citizenship and Christian life differently.

Enjoy this Easter Season

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2 thoughts on “Squeezing Jesus into Babylon

  1. David Troxler

    Dave, thank you for your post.
    I had to stop and ponder the line about Jesus not boycotting the world and the implications for others like myself.
    The temptation to withdraw from obligations to the world and call it holy or righteous is a false sense of holiness.
    I needed this reminder.

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