To Pilate 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” (John 18:36 ESV)
A new way, not the way of old, is and has been craftily creeping in for sometime now. It is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Perhaps the thing is like a monster under the bead or in the closet, waiting for us to fall into an innocent and deep sleep. Maybe it’s like a blurry picture that says it tells the whole story, taken in the darkness of a new moon. How has it crept in under the door of thought?
Have you ever watched a late night infomercial and after some time looked at the clock and realized an hour had passed? Were you drawn in, convinced you absolutely needed this revolutionary product. Surely and with conviction and not to mention with a money back guarantee, this product will change your life. Right? Some of us give in and pick up the phone with a credit card in hand; others of us wake up and realize we either do not need the thing really. Maybe what I am trying to say is in some ways similar.
Jesus is not something to be sold. He is not something to be consumed or bought. The king of the world is not a cheap trick. Salvation is not a transaction. The cross is not a barcode to scan at the checkout counter. Capitalism and the free market cannot represent what the kingdom of God is like. Judicial systems do not give us the complete picture of how God relates to us and what actually happens on the cross.
Entering the kingdom of God does not look like busyness, earning money at the expense of others, doing more, controlling, manipulating, or using power to oppress others. It does not look like possessing more things. It does not look like media, politics, or commercials. The kingdom of God is not a trend. The kingdom of God is the reality breaking into our present world and kingdoms, not by force or violence or the sword, but by and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Don’t miss the point; the kingdom of God (his rule and reign, his sphere of influence, where his will is done) does not look like the kingdoms of this world. But remember, and this is important, the kingdom of God Jesus teaches about is not a place. It is not “heaven” as far as is popularly understood. When Jesus says the kingdom is not of this world he is not saying it is in a different place other than earth.
Rather he is saying the kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of the world. It is something else entirely. So we do not go to the kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven when we die. To think that is to miss the whole point! To enter the kingdom of God is to come under his rule, here and now! It is to come under a rule of love, sacrifice, forgiveness and mercy, not a rule of coercion, military strength, violence, and manipulation.
It is to live like Jesus if he were I now and not in some disembodied place after I die. Entering the kingdom of heaven happens now on this side of death! What good news! We belong to the Lord in death as we do in life! Entering the kingdom of God is entering everlasting life!