Jesus had spend his entire earthly sojourn telling his disciples about the nature of God’s Kingdom, and on one occasion he bluntly said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” God isn’t interested in commandeering the powers of state so he can create an earthly government that mandates the principles he cherishes. Such a government would be contrived and heavily manipulated. And the outcomes would be forced and artificial. God’s kingdom is not political.
Picture the scene. Jesus is visiting with his disciples for the last time before disappearing into the clouds. The disciples didn’t realize it then, but this was their last opportunity to speak with him face to face, and they used it to ask a question which they repeated several times.
“When the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’” (Acts 1:6, NLT) I can only imagine Jesus’ thoughts at that critical moment—“Am I such a poor teacher that these men have completely missed what I’ve been trying to say?”
As humans we keep trying to domesticize God’s kingdom so that it meets our expectations and whims. We think military power and force is needed to manage people. But God understands better than we that only his Spirit can tame the human heart.
The disciples didn’t realize they were still focused on the wrong thing and had asked an irrelevant question. So Jesus sidestepped it by once again alluding to the true nature of the Kingdom.
“He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8, NLT).
Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.