An Unusual Time
This is a strange time we are living in, isn’t it? 2020 has been a year to remember, and we are only halfway through it. The beginning of the year overflowed with so much promise. We dreamed big dreams and planned big plans. When COVID-19 hit the US, there were moments of panic that stretched into weeks of stress. However, people banded together and helped one another. We saw people doing all sorts of random acts of kindness as we recognized the world needed a little bit of love.
However, the last few weeks have brought an even deeper sense of heaviness and pain. We have watched our country become divided and torn apart by acts of violence. Many have been at a loss for words as we have seen the sin of racism resurface amidst circumstances that have been extremely difficult for us all to process.
One pattern has caught my attention over the last several months as the US, along with the rest of the world, learns to deal with unprecedented crises and sickening threads of racism. It seems as though many are falling into a trap in which the issues at hand become heavily politicized. If you are not on the “correct” side, you are instantly demonized. For example, if you believe you need to wear a mask everywhere you go, you are on a side. If you believe that there needs to be a huge amount of police reform, you’ve taken a stance. Somehow nonpartisan and moral issues alike have become partisan conversations.
Crying out for a leader
But friends, the Gospel points us to an entirely different paradigm! In this paradigm, the kingdom of this world is dethroned and Christ is exalted. For centuries, people have been crying out for a leader and a kingdom here on earth that would solve all of their problems and bring them peace. In 1 Samuel, the Israelites were insecure and needy. They asked for a king because they wanted to look like the nations surrounding them. The Lord called them His chosen people, but they resisted the gift of being set apart by Him.
The Old Testament is full of beautiful prophecies of Jesus, the Savior who would be fully God and fully man. He was to come and save the world. The Israelites waited expectantly for this coming Messiah, the King who would change everything. When Jesus came into the world as a baby boy wrapped in swaddling clothes, the people of Israel were extremely frustrated or missed His arrival altogether. They were once again crying out for freedom, but this time from Rome instead of Egypt. The Roman empire wanted to take over the entire world. Consequently, the Israelites felt as though they were mere pawns in the hands of power-hungry leaders.
Jesus’ arrival was missed by many because they looked to a throne, not a humble cradle. When He later began His ministry after John the Baptist so beautifully prepared the way for His arrival, many in Israel rejoiced. They hoped someone had come to deliver them from Rome and reestablish Israel’s earthly kingdom. The Jews were tired of being the underdogs and wanted some power of their own.
Looking for rescue and reform
I don’t know about you, but when I read the Bible, I often see myself in the Israelites. I am quick to want a dramatic rescue from my circumstances. It is difficult for me to be uncomfortable or feel as though I have no sense of control. But the Gospel is not about me having it all figured out. Rather it is about my surrender to the One who holds it all. The Gospel transforms me so that He increases and I decrease (John 3:30).
The Jews were hoping Jesus would save them from the oppressive power of the Roman empire. We too hope Jesus will sweep in and save the day. We hope revival will come and we will no longer live in a land divided by race, political affiliation, and socioeconomic status. But Jesus came to save us from ourselves, from the death-grip of sin. Apart from Christ, we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior. No amount of policy reform can change the human heart. Only God Himself can take our hearts of stone and make them hearts of flesh–willing and able to obey and love Him alone.
During this time of great heaviness in our nation, we are tempted to look to our political leaders and systems and demand changes that would bring about reform. When faced with such grief, we are desperate for a quick fix, a solution that would bring us peace. It is good for God’s people to pursue political reform and justice in this world. But we must remember that the only lasting peace we can find is in Jesus Himself.
Not of this world
When Jesus went to the cross, He was questioned by Pilate, the governor of Rome. Pilate asked Jesus:
“‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘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.’ Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’” (John 18:33–37)
Jesus did not come to establish an earthly kingdom. Jesus’ role as the Father’s Son is not to dismantle the man-made systems that fail us. He is our good Shepherd who leads us through the trials that come our way on this earth.
We get to grieve as those with hope when faced with such heartache as we have seen in the last few weeks and months (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We get to rest in the arms of a Savior who bled and died and became sin for us in order that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). And we get to place all of our hope and expectation on Him as we await His return.
No matter our skin color, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation—if we are in Christ, we are citizens of heaven. And while we may feel uncomfortable here on earth, we can find great comfort in knowing that His kingdom is unshakable and His reign knows no end.
Meet the Author:
Jessica Mathisen lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband and two kids. She is a recovering perfectionist, a former teacher, and a lover of people. Her passion is to communicate God's love to others through writing and relationships. She is passionate about sharing the love of Jesus as a foster mama and through serving in various local ministries. Her most favorite things are hanging with her family, eating chips and salsa, and reading good books.