Most of all, Christians differ concerning the location of God’s rule. Some claim to find it solely within the heart of the individual believer – misreading the famous line from Luke, “the kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21), as “the kingdom of God is within you.” Others insist that God’s kingdom demands a full social realization in a Christian state, that Constantine had the right idea all along, and that acquiescing in Christianity’s present diaspora condition is a huge mistake. Those seeking the kingdom within their hearts find the notion of a Christian politics nonsensical, while the other extreme longs for Christendom to be restored. Luke-Acts offers a vision of God’s rule that cuts across all these options and provides the contemporary church a basis for renewal in its thinking on the subject.
First, Luke clearly thinks in terms of an already and not yet of the kingdom. In successive sentences, Luke has Jesus tell his disciples, “seek his kingdom and these other things will be given you besides,” and “do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your father is pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:31-32). The rule of God, furthermore, is both intensely personal and political, for it demands of every individual a conversion to the prophetic message and a maturing in faith through perseverance, and at the same time places this personal commitment within the context of a people shaped by shared convictions and practices. It is precisely this combination which classically constitutes the nature of the church, but because being church in this full communitarian sense is a demanding and difficult thing, Christians have found it all too easy to slip toward a private piety or a public politics as options.
Luke Timothy Johnson. Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church: The Challenge of Luke-Acts to Contemporary Christians (Kindle Locations 1321-1331). Kindle Edition.
© 2013, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.