The Kingdom of God
A friend of mine posted a thought on “Facebook” that the Kingdom of God is more like the old Monarchy systems than American Democracy. He said we should think about the Kingdom of God in terms of it being a hierarchy that demands absolute obedience and submission versus an American style democracy where the citizens have rights (I am paraphrasing so as not to plagiarize another person’s words). I decided to use my blog to make some comments in regard to this idea. Not only because of my friend’s post but because I have been thinking a lot lately about this idea of authority.
First of all the Monarchs of Europe and other places in past history believed that they derived their authority from God. “The Divine Right of Kings” it was called. They believed they could pretty much treat their subjects with impunity because God put them in their position and gave them that authority. They demanded absolute obedience and there was swift judgment for disobedience. They were immoral tyrants. Even those we consider to be good kings, like the Old Testament King David, were immoral, used the people for their own purposes and committed sin in the name of God.
Now granted my friend did not imply that God is immoral or a bad king just that the Kingdom of God is a hierarchical kingdom that rules with absoluteness and demands submission. Of course in that is also contained that God is good and will not mistreat His subjects. And the idea that the kingdom of God is not a Democracy therefore the subjects of the kingdom don’t have rights. I agree that God is the absolute king of the universe and the kingdom of God is not a democracy as we know worldly democracies. The part of this that I take exception to is the idea that we are subjects with no rights and that God demands absolute obedience or there will be consequences.
The version of the absolute God on the throne demanding our fear and obedience is an idea we picked up from Greek and Roman mythology. That God of fear, anger and judgment is Zeus or Jupiter not Jehovah. Jehovah is a loving, kind, God who wants to work with us, teach us, love us. He gave His son for us, He wants us to call him “Daddy.” Yes we are supposed to do our best to live a righteous life and God has given us the grace to do that. But if we live our lives in fear of being judged for every misstep what kind of a relationship is that with our Father?
A hierarchical king never says, “”Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.”” Isaiah 1:18.
Maybe the reason the modern church likes the idea of a hierarchical kingdom is for the same reason the kings of old liked it. When you are the one in authority its nice to believe that God works through that authority because that makes your position important and you become someone special. When you are the authority then to say that God works through authority is to say that God work’s through me. Its to say that I as your “pastor” or “leader” have authority over you.
The Kingdom of God is not like any human kingdom we have ever seen and to describe is as such is a huge misunderstanding of God and how he works. Jesus said in Mark 10:42 – 45; “Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”” That, to me does not sound like a God who is instituting a hierarchical kingdom.
We will never understand the kingdom of God until we quit trying to make God in our own Image.
Grace and Peace