Lately as I watch the news, I see graphics emblazoned with the words Decision 2016, referring to the decision Americans have to make in this year’s election. It’s not just any ordinary election year; it is an election year in which we pick the next president United States. Americans are very passionate about elections because we, unlike many others, have the privilege to choose our government and our rulers. But, due to this passion, we are awash in political Facebook posts, robocalls, television advertisements, talk shows, and polls. Politics is everywhere despite the fact that people often say that you should avoid politics and religion in conversation. We get so passionate about politics and religion that personal relationships can suffer harm if we speak too strongly about these things. But sometimes I wonder if our passion for politics exceeds our passion for religion. Instead, our focus as Christians should be on our true citizenship, which is our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven.
Our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven means much more than our citizenship in the United States, because the kingdom of heaven is a better kingdom. Earthly kingdoms, like our own, often find themselves ravaged by war and torn apart by petty border disputes. Isaiah chapter two tells us that the kingdom of heaven is different:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Isa 2:2-4
This kingdom has no borders, and in fact, we see that all nations will flow into this kingdom. We see evidence of this today in that the Church transcends national borders. We have brethren from all parts of the earth, from Asia to Europe, and from Africa to the Americas. And not only is this kingdom without borders, it is also without war. Daniel chapter two tells us that this Kingdom will never be destroyed, because it is created and established by the Almighty God.
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure." Dan 2:44-45
No borders, terrorists, or armies can prevail against God's kingdom, so in the words of Isaiah the prophet, God's people will beat their swords into plowshares. The Kingdom of Heaven also offers us much more than any kingdom of this Earth could possibly offer. We oftentimes dream that if we just pick the right president or the right representatives, then our nation can be great. And to some extent this is true, but the best an earthly kingdom could ever offer us are empty promises of peace and prosperity. As Americans, perhaps we have been so fortunate as to have lived in such prosperous times. Even so, the kingdom of heaven can offer us something far greater than anything the kingdoms of earth could ever offer: forgiveness of sins. While peace and prosperity may be great goals, 9/11 has reminded us that peace can be taken away at a moment's notice, and the “great recession” of 2008 has reminded us that prosperity is fleeting. But we understand that God's promises are unshakable, because he's made a covenant with us. If our hope is only in the kingdoms of this world, then we are truly lost, but thanks to Jesus’s perfect gift, we have hope of an enduring promise of an eternal home in his kingdom.
Unfortunately, the president you voted for may lose the election, or maybe the president you voted for won, but he turned out to be a different leader than who you thought he’d be. Fortunately, no such mistakes are made in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is a perfect Kingdom with the perfect ruler. Worldly rulers are often only interested their own power or fortune, and they seek to attain these goals at the expense of their people. The Kingdom of Heaven, on the other hand, is ruled by Jesus Christ whose primary interest is in the well-being of his people. This fact is demonstrated in his absolute selflessness in sacrificing his own life for the good of his people. How many Earthly rulers would give up anything, much less their own life, for the good of their people? I daresay not many of them. If there's ever been a ruler you would want to serve, Jesus Christ is that ruler.
Despite having the perfect ruler and king in Jesus Christ, we still get very excited and caught up in the fanfare that is election season. Let us never forget the kingdom of which we are true citizens, and may our excitement and passions be first directed towards our benevolent king, Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. If there's one decision for us to make in 2016, it is the decision to subject ourselves completely to the rule of Jesus Christ and to the spread of his gospel to all the world. In God’s kingdom, the “elect” aren’t the president or the representatives. The elect are us, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:2).
- Dan Harbin