Today is not the end of the world.
It is one of emotion, insult, polarization and anxiety. It is one of incredible importance. There are issues that our culture is facing which need the utmost care, attention and wisdom. But, (exhale as you read this), the election is not everything.
In this shared moment, we sit together and cast our votes into the unknown hoping that this time we will find a leader who will bring about reform, peace, wisdom, education, longer life and overall progress. Perhaps now more than ever we desperately look to our national leader to save us.
There is a reason that we call this process the election cycle. There is a tangible rhythm of expectation, hope, excitement, and anxiety each time a new leader is elected. The message that they present to us is one of salvation. Obama’s iconic Hope campaign stirred hearts in the midst of the financial tumult of 2008. His Change campaign held our attention and bought our trust. Hillary’s Stronger Together, meets us in a moment of deep division in our country. Even Trump’s Make America Great Again sounds appealing in a moment where the distant vision of American superiority has been severely fractured. These narratives press on the things that we hope for most for our nation. Yet, if history tells us anything, at the end of the campaign trail, after the streamers fall, we’re confronted with the complexity and scope of the issues that humanity really faces. And there’s something undeniably hollow about the story of hope that we hoped in.
In the midst of the noise, arguments, and social media explosion of today, the words of Jesus hold incredible relevance to our shared cultural moment, whether you’re a follower of his or not. He speaks of a different way, a different kingdom, unlike any other. His message is profoundly counter-cultural. In a moment with so much noise, opinion, and conflict about who will lead the American nation…
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
like the joy at harvest
as with victory.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—
all their whips and cudgels and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance
as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops,
along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned,
a fire that will burn for days!
For to us child has been born
to us a son is given;
And the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace,
there will be no end,
He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. to establish it and uphold it.
With justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:2-7 (esv/msg)
“Turn around and live differently, for the Kingdom of Heaven is arriving.”
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.”
When Jesus was asked if he was a king by the man with the power to put him to death:
“My kingdom is not of this world. “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”
There is an alternative kingdom, in the most profound sense of the phrase. It overturns some of our greatest assumptions about life, culture and how we are to live. It speaks of a different way, one of life, peace, and a good king. The rule of this king is characterized explicitly by “justice and righteousness” (Isaiah 9:7). It exists now in those who choose to live according to this different way; the way of Jesus. It is coming in a fuller sense, where this way will be experienced across the borders of the earth. The description of that kingdom is one of restoration.
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will live with them.
They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.”
“The One seated on the throne said ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”
(The Revelation 21:3-5)
It is not strange or overly spiritual or underly spiritual, or anything in-between. It is revolutionary, upside-down, foreign, and fraught with hope.
Don’t we hunger for a way of life like that?