“We won’t worry about the election. We are Lutherans and believe that there are two kingdoms. Though Trump won one, he didn’t, and couldn’t touch the other.” That’s the Kingdom of God’s grace.”
But what does God’s grace include? Might it have something to do with the Old Testament promises about a new king and a new kingdom? That’s where scarlet sins are made as white as snow, where there is food in abundance for the hungry, where strangers will be welcomed, where water flows in the desert. Slaves and prisoners will be released. Everyone will sit under their own vine and fig tree meaning homes and employment. The sick will be healed, the lame leap, the blind see the deaf hear. Yes, and they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and they won’t learn war no more.
For many, the fulfillment of many of those promises could be undertaken under an enlightened government which was committed to aiding not only those in our land but in every land. Now in the United States and in capitols around the world questions have arisen whether or not the U.S. government can or will work toward those noble goals.
But… what if Nero is emperor, or Domitian? What if the government is no longer led by those working for kingdom promises but (let the reader understand) by the beast? Then those following the lamb not only look ahead with hope but do what is in their power to shelter the stranger, heal without price, refurbish old houses, and refuse to fight or support those who do. Unraveling is the hope, that as the church falters, the enlightened government will do the good thing, the thing that is right.
Standing on the sidelines is a whole generation who have looked with jaundiced eye at a church serving itself, wrapped up in countless meetings for their aggrandizement or mere survival. But as that generation takes to the streets shouting “He is not our president,” the ground below is shaking. For the near future, will strangers be expelled, walls and fences built, coal and oil burn the skies? Will waters flood islands and cities?
Will the churches proclaim the promises of the kingdom? Will they repent of their own self-absorption, and in the midst of the failure of governments actually “believe” that the KINGDOM IS AT HAND? Will they speak of global warming, an end to war, aid to refugees, disobedience to torture, medical care to the uninsured? Will they walk with the poor, the homeless, the imprisoned, and those murdered by the authorities?
When they do, the marchers on the street might find a place to rest in a sanctuary. Gathered around bread and wine, forgiven, empowered, and redirected, their focus shifts from one kingdom to the other as they realize God’s power through them to shape and reshape the society. That kingdom comes through serving, gifting, protesting, suffering, and sometimes, even in politics. Let God’s people welcome the young and stand with them under the banner of the Lamb. Seemingly powerless in the face of this world’s chaos and tribulation, we have already won. “The Kingdom Ours Remaineth.”