The kingdom of Christ or the kingdom of Rome?

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Jesus came to Israel proclaiming a kingdom founded on faith, grace and love and was executed by a kingdom founded on idolatry (the Roman emperor was worshipped as a god), violence (Roman armies had conquered the world and rebellion was ruthlessly crushed) and state-interest (Rome stripped conquered countries of their wealth). Roman crucifixions were intentionally public events, a powerful warning that rebellion would be crushed. As he slowly died on that Roman cross it appeared that the way of state-sanctioned idolatry, violence and self-interest had once more crushed the utopian vision of yet another hippie dreamer.

The resurrection turned the tables. Without resurrection Jesus’s life and death would have been tragic and no more. The resurrection was God’s declaration that the ways of Rome were not ultimate, that the future would not be an endless rerun of one violent kingdom after another but resurrection, the triumph of a world built on faith, grace and love.

As a follower of Jesus I am called to live the way of Jesus not the way of Rome. Surely this has both personal and political implications. Surely it means experiencing God’s grace and love for me and responding with faith, living the way of faith, grace and love in my personal relationships, and asking what the way of Jesus might be toward those who are refugees, impoverished, enslaved, homeless and exhorting my government to embody these ways rather than the ways of Rome.

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