The disciples were curious about politics. They had been following their Rabbi, watching his growing popularity, and they wondered when he was going to make his move. “Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6, NIV)
When Jesus had risen from the dead he spent 40 days with his disciples, teaching them about the kingdom of God. At the end of that time, they asked a question that tells us volumes about why the Hebrew people did not see Jesus as the Messiah: “Lord, NOW are you going to throw off the Romans and make Israel great again?” In a way you can’t blame them at all. Instead of hearing Jesus’ message about the heavenly Kingdom, they wanted to know about his politics and his plans. They were a people living under the thumb of an occupying army.
They had to submit to external control. Because of the law, they had forged a culture that had remained stubbornly unique for centuries, and the oppression and disruption the Romans forced upon them threatened their ability to follow the law and thus attain eternal life. Perhaps no other people on earth chafed as much under foreign control. As Jesus’ ministry unfolded, they were still looking at events around them, still focused on political freedom, and still hoping to restore the Kingdom of David and the glory of Israel to the Promised Land…
Perhaps the number one reason people fail to achieve relationship with God is that they persist in their own expectations, rather than asking Him about His. It had to freak them out a little bit to hear the Master talking about serving to lead, dying to live, and forsaking worldly things to find spiritual reality. They had earthly business to take care of! Do you come to God on your own terms, or are you willing to submit yourself to His?
It is instructive that Jesus didn’t give them a political answer, and that he didn’t point them to political revolution as a means to gain power. Instead he said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Verses 7-8)
As he always did, he put the focus back on the Father, and reminded them that his kingdom was spiritual, and that their place in it was to go out and spread the Gospel. I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics, because after all we have the right as citizens to be involved in our political process; but it sure would be interesting to see what the world would be like if church goers put all of their political energy into helping the poor and dispossessed, spreading love, and changing peoples’ hearts with active faith. When every Christian in America makes that their priority, THAT would make America great again.
If you want to see change, be changed. If you want to see a more loving culture, be more loving. And remember, as you sometimes feel heartsick while looking at the changing world all around you: the kingdom of heaven is not out there, in the world. It’s right THERE, in your heart, waiting to take the throne…Submit to the Father’s authority, and you’ll discover a whole new political platform to support!
Jesus said it’s not for us to know the Father’s plans,
But we’ve replaced that with a lot of energy on man’s!
He wouldn’t set a final date for when the world would meet its fate;
He didn’t even hesitate, but told them they would have to wait!
Perhaps today we can relate in terms of our political slate:
We focus on our candidate, perhaps they’ll make America great,
Or have another Watergate, or battle with the media’s hate,
Or like the Patriots deflate for greed or power in the state.
But Jesus said to concentrate
On this: “Be witnesses to me.
Just start at home, then let the nations see
What being with the Father can be worth.
Go. Tell your friends. Tell everyone on earth.
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