Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not: In America, Not of America
Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not, Part 4: In America, Not of America
The Inevitable Kingdom
By Josh Porter
Begin with Scripture and prayer
Gather with your community in a comfortable, distraction-free environment. Have one person pray, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide and shape your conversation, disposition, and heart, then spend a minute or two in silence, calming and readying yourself to meet with God and with one another.
Have one person read Romans 12v9-19 aloud to the group. Then have another person read 1 Timothy 2v1-6 aloud as well.
Read this overview
Most of the Van City communities engaging this practice for the first time will be meeting on November 3rd, which is Election Day in America. Many Americans believe that the results of this election will determine the fate of the civilized world—that we will be rescued from the jaws of destruction, or else descend into social and moral decay.
Jesus and his earliest followers knew political turmoil and civil unrest well. A small, persecuted minority, the early Christians knew only oppression, and paganism from the powers that be. Even so, for centuries the early church response to corrupt power and political evil was to pray for those in positions of authority, bless enemies rather than curse them, and to embody a different way of life whether it was politically permissible or not.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
PLEASE NOTE: This practice is not an appropriate space to discuss and debate politicians and policies. Please demonstrate a willingness to hear from your community without correcting, demeaning, arguing, or inserting your opinion. Remember these words from Paul, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
The subversive politics of Jesus do not promote pursuing traditional avenues of political reform, nor do they promote complete political apathy and inaction. Instead, Jesus’ teachings advocate a way of life that changes the world counterintuitively.
In this way, disciples of Jesus “vote” every day, in every decision they make. Jesus believed that regardless of who is or is not in political power, his way of life would change the world, like a tiny seed that becomes a great tree.
- As the election season concludes, how do you feel about the unqualified claims of Jesus about the kingdom of God? Is it easy or difficult to believe that regardless of the election results, God’s kingdom of goodness and justice will continue to grow wherever his people practice the way of Jesus?
- Depending on the election results, will praying for those in power and for the kingdom be easy or difficult for you?
Spend some time in prayer.
Regardless of who becomes president, the New Testament commands disciples of Jesus to pray for those in positions of authority, even if they are enemies of the kingdom—to bless them rather than curse them.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that those in power lead according to Jesus’ teachings or that our prayers will Christianize our nation. Even so, just as the early Christians prayed for their pagan Roman oppressors, America Christians pray for the president, and for the kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Take some time to pray as a community. Specifically, pray that in this season of great division, God will bring his kingdom of peace and reconciliation regardless of election results. Pray that God would continue to grow and establish his kingdom.
Have one person volunteer to open the time of prayer, and another person volunteer to close, then make space for anyone to pray out spontaneously. Feel free to pray more than once, in response to or in support of someone else’s prayer, or as the Spirit brings anything to your heart and mind.
After you’ve made sufficient time for everyone to pray, the person who volunteered to do so can close with thanksgiving.
Discuss the coming week’s Practice
This week take time to pray daily for whoever is elected president, for peace to reign in a divided nation, and for the kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
As you pray each day (preferably in the morning), pay attention to what happens in your heart and mind as you persist in the practice.
When you meet next week, share the experience with your community.