Election 2020: Living in Jesus’ Kingdom
Updated: Sep 9
Last week we were reminded from Psalm 146 that Jesus is our help and our hope and his kingdom will never end. Jesus reigns from his throne no matter who rules in the White House. We are freed from having to put our hope in elections because Jesus is on his throne whatever the outcome may be. Our help and our hope are secure in King Jesus. Those truths ought to transform the way we approach the final months and weeks leading up to Election 2020. As those who have placed their hope in Jesus, the church ought to look different from the world whose salvation hope is found in a political candidate ushering in their version of a utopian kingdom. In reality, only Jesus' kingdom will endure. All other kingdoms will be shaken and eventually come to an end.
So, what does it look like to live in and for Jesus’ kingdom leading up to the election? How can Christians lead in a way that looks different from the leaders of the world? Below I give a few things to consider in light of the good news from Psalm 146 last week.
Know Which Kingdom You Are Living In
Jesus was brought before the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, for execution following a host of false charges during an illegal trial in the dead of night. As Pilate questioned him Jesus replied with an often-misunderstood statement in John 18:36,
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
Jesus was not declaring that he ruled only over the “spiritual” realm while the material world was beyond his purview. He was not saying that he rules our hearts while the rest of creation is outside of his control. He was not saying that this world is unimportant and that heaven alone is what truly matters. If Jesus had meant any of these things, he would not have taught his disciples to pray to the Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, ON EARTH as it is in heaven.” He would not have declared to his disciples that “ALL authority in heaven and ON EARTH has been given to me.” Rather, in saying that his kingdom is not of this world Jesus is declaring that his Kingship and his Kingdom are not like the rulers and kingdoms of this world. Jesus’ kingdom has everything to do with this world but he comes to flip this broken world upside down!
So, if we are living in Jesus’ kingdom we ought to look very different from the world and culture around us who do not know Jesus. As you see the ugly struggle for power and control during this election season you ought to be reminded that Jesus’ kingdom is different and so much more beautiful. Yet, if you are anything like me you know that it is so easy to get sucked in to the power struggle. That is why we need to be reminded of the good news of the gospel daily and fill our hearts with the reminder that we are destined for a better kingdom. Practically that may mean picking up your Bible more than you’re checking social media or CNN during this election season. We do not need to put our hope in the things or rulers of this world. Jesus is our King! Remind yourself often.
Reflect Your King
2020 has been a year of violence and a combative spirit in our society. Our leaders are antagonistic toward each other and follow the fallen first king Adam in their desire to shift blame. I hope that if 2020 and this election season has taught us anything it is that character really does matter. It is not a coincidence that the vast majority of biblical qualification for elders are about character, not ability. Your pastors are not perfect, but it is a demonstration by Jesus that his kingdom and the church over which he is the perfect Chief Shepherd are to be led differently than the world. God looks at the heart instead of outward appearance.
The unique thing about the qualifications for pastors is that they are not unique to pastors! These ought to be the characteristics that every Christian within the Kingdom of God strive for – again, not perfectly – but fervently and sincerely seeking repentance when they fall short. Why? Because they reflect the character of our King! Here are just a few examples - above reproach, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. That list alone would put the church in stark contrast to our current culture.
If you trust in Jesus as your Savior and King then you are to reflect Jesus’ character and leadership. Model yourself after your true King, not the rulers of this world. People are watching you this election season and in every other facet of life – work, school, leisure time, etc. Do you put your hope in comfort, approval, control, or power? That is the hope of the rulers of this world. A Christian says, “Whatever gain I had I count it all loss for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord!” Let Jesus be your joy this election season and you will have peace in the midst of the chaos and anger. In so doing you will demonstrate to a watching world that your King is worthy.
Represent Your King
Not only are we called to reflect our King, but we are called to lead others to him. In their book, Designed to Lead, Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck comment on leadership in Jesus’ Kingdom,
“Whether you are called to lead in the home, the marketplace, the church, or in the city, His people are called to lead others in worship of Jesus Christ. It is not enough for His people to be good citizens of God’s Kingdom. We are to be ambassadors of his Kingdom, calling and teaching others to join us in our everlasting allegiance to God through Christ.”
There is no greater purpose in life than to point others to find life in Jesus. This is the very purpose that our King gives us in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 when he commands us to make disciples of all nations.
Someday those who trust in Jesus will get to simply be “good citizens” enjoying God and his kingdom for all eternity. However, for now we are still living in exile as ambassadors of this kingdom. Whose kingdom are you proclaiming this election season? Are you proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ more than the hope of an earthly political party? Proclaim the good news of your King and lead others to put their hope in him!
Cultivate Jesus’ Kingdom of Grace and Peace
In Mark 10:42–45 Jesus explained how his kingdom operates differently than the kingdoms of this world, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Christian leadership is uniquely designed for the glory of God and the good of others. Let’s be a people who cultivate an environment within the church where others can flourish whatever their political preferences! The church is not divided simply because it is an election year. Instead, we serve others even when they disagree with us.
Unfortunately, we often use our time, talent, and treasure to build up our security, our platform, our wealth, and our power. That is how worldly leaders operate. However, Christian leadership in whatever sphere of influence God has given you is about giving yourself away. Remember, Jesus’ kingdom flips things upside down and right side up! When we cultivate Jesus’ kingdom in our lives, homes, work places, and churches then we demonstrate the grace and peace of Jesus Christ when he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Are you building your kingdom or sacrificing it for the sake of Christ’s kingdom? If we are cultivating Jesus’ kingdom of grace and peace then we will present a striking contrast to the rest of the world, we will reflect the goodness of our King, we will lead others to Jesus, and we will cultivate communities of love and service. John Piper demonstrates the upside-down nature of this kingdom when he says,
“Giving, losing, dying, and leaving are God’s way of getting, gaining, living, and arriving home.”
How could it be different? We worship a crucified King! Folly to the world but the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. He rose from the dead conquering sin, death, and evil, and he reigns for all eternity. One day he will return and usher in his kingdom fully but until then it breaks into this world through his people by the power of the Holy Spirit. That sounds like a better kingdom to reflect, represent, and cultivate this election season.