In the early 1990s, Nirvana (a band I never got into) released their song Smells Like Teen Spirit. History buffs say it was the musical equivalent to the Kennedy assassination. That is, people remembered where they were when they first heard the song. It was that transcendent.
I was a public school teacher in those days, and the song was everywhere … even years after its release.
After what took place this past July in Florida, I’ve realized that something is in the air. Something significant is afoot. And it smells like God’s Spirit.
Let me riff on one aspect of it. Today’s political atmosphere is so radioactive that countless Christians are dividing from one another over politics. How can this be? It’s because they’re engaging the dialogue through the same matrix that the world employs.
All those political smackdowns that Christians engage in every day on Facebook reflects a complete misunderstanding of what the kingdom of God is. It also underscores that so many believers have lost sight of the gospel that was preached in the first century — what Jesus called “the gospel of the kingdom.”
Don’t make the mistake of confusing the kingdom with the conservative right. The gospel of the kingdom will make the conservative right livid.
Don’t confuse the kingdom with the progressive left. The gospel of the kingdom will make the progressive left furious.
Don’t confuse the kingdom with the libertarian movement, the Tea Party, Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the Green Party, Trumpism, Obamaism, Clintonism, Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, or any other political movement.
At the center of God’s kingdom is the absolute lordship of Jesus Christ — who still happens to be alive and active. Yet Christ’s lordship is not only at the center. It’s at the circumference and in the margins. And the outstandingly and unmistakable (meaning, you can’t miss it) message of the kingdom is that Jesus of Nazareth is the rightful King and Lord of the world.
His lordship has disturbing implications which — when submitted to — force us all out of our comfort zones and political categories.
Submitting to Jesus and His kingdom is not the same as giving yourself to a political cause, no matter how good or noble that cause may be.
The kingdom of God — and its blistering message — is completely OTHER than any political party or movement of this world. And it is the kingdom — not any political movement, ideology, or party — that demands your total allegiance as well as your passion.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t fit into the prevailing categories of His day? Have you ever noticed that when He was asked a question, or was given two options, His answer came from a completely different plane? He refused to use the world’s matrix, including that of the “religious world.”
This is a mark of the kingdom. It’s also a mark of the King. The Lord thinks on completely different levels than the world does.
Many believers are beginning to wake up to this reality. They are recognizing that the kingdom of God and its remarkable gospel transcends both the political left and the political right. So they no longer identify with those categories. Nor do they discuss the issues of the day using the same matrix the world does. They’ve transcended. Just like Jesus, their responses are coming from an entirely different plane. And it smells like God’s Spirit.
I’ll say more about the kingdom next week.
(For those inclined to “read into” articles, this is a blog post, not a book. You can read the previous articles in this series to get the context. As well as the others articles that are coming.)