We all know the story, or at least many of us do. You know, the one about what everyone thought Jesus had come to do, when in fact He hadn’t come to do that at all. Conquer Rome. Free the Jewish people from an oppressive government and restore to them a kingdom that was rightfully theirs.
We can all see it now. Jesus had something else in mind. Something no one imagined.
Jesus barely even mentioned Rome. Don’t you find that odd? That the biggest issue in the lives of His people at that time isn’t even addressed? That they were being taxed to death simply brought “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”. He showed zero indignation toward Rome. There was not a word mentioned of Jewish rights as the people of God, no talk about protesting what was happening, no call to resistance.
I assume you know where I’m going with this. We are the people of God. Just for giggles, let’s call our government Rome.
I know some people can rattle off perfectly good reasons (in their mind) that the Church needs to be involved in politics, needs to have their finger on the pulse of culture, needs to push back for our “freedoms”. There’s a lot of talk about taking back the seven mountains, taking back the government, standing up for righteousness, but the problem I keep running into is this: I can’t find it in scripture. I can’t find that part where Jesus told us we have rights and freedoms and that we are to dictate the culture of the world. I see this…
A scribe approached him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”Matthew 8:19-20
Jesus isn’t saying “if you choose to follow me, it could get uncomfortable”. He’s saying that when we choose to follow Him, we relinquish our right to have a place to call home here on earth. No right to a roof over our head.
In Matthew, chapter 10, the first time He sent out His disciples on mission, He sent them with no provision. He told them they would be beaten and imprisoned for His sake, that they would be brought before people in authority, but they were to be His witness in that situation.
In other words – unfair and unjust treatment is not something to fight against, it is to be used as an opportunity to be His witness.
When I read the gospels, I do not see rights. I do not see a call to resist or a call to take something back. I see a laying it all down, a giving it all away.
I see “sell everything you have and give it to the poor and follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21)
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me”. (Matthew 5:10-11)
It is clear from the scriptures that the people of God do not have a “right” to comfort, to fair treatment, to be respected, or to be treated kindly or justly (except by the other members of the family of God. There are big expectations in that category).
Beloved, we have not been tasked with conquering Rome. Frankly, that is a far too narrow a vision. Our assignment is simple, but has profound eternal consequences – love God with everything we’ve got, and love people as ourselves. Carry the gospel to all the nations. Make disciples (not just converts). Trust God in all things. Fix our eyes, minds, and hearts on heaven, not on earth.
We are a people called to lay down and give away, not demand and take back.
I know it seems radical and uncomfortable and goes against so many things ingrained in us as earthly citizens of this nation (or any other free nation). But we have something so much bigger on us than constitutional rights and allegiance to political parties. We have a call to allow the Holy Spirit of God to pursue the hearts and salvation of people, through us. A call to co-labor with Jesus to build His Kingdom, not a political kingdom with political power and authority. That is way too small and narrow. We are increasing the territory of the spiritual authority and power of heaven, on the earth. But that power and authority is not against men (flesh and blood), it is against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6)
Our battle is not with Rome, it is with hell.
It is a battle fought through prayer, and through our obedience to the Word of God. It is fought best by those who are fully aware of who they are in Christ, and what they are actually fighting for – the souls of men. Not their political views or their opinions on current cultural issues. We are fighting for their eternal destinies.
The days are getting darker, and nothing in scripture tells us that evil will be vanquished or that the darkness will recede, until Jesus returns, no matter how bad we want it. That is not our fight.
Our fight is to pillage the darkness with the gospel that can save the souls of men and women held captive there, and to love one another while we do it.