For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from mount Sinai, which brings forth to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to [is equivalent to] Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Galatians 4:22-26 KJ2000)
He that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. (Revelation 3:12-13 KJ2000)
Yes, what IS the Spirit saying to the churches? What kingdom are we of? Where are our hearts? Jesus said that where a man’s treasure is is where his heart will be found. I often have to ask myself what kingdom I am of when I find myself being tempted to put a political comment on my FaceBook page, “Am I of this world system, the old Jerusalem with its murderous religious and political factions or am I of the NEW Jerusalem of the Father which comes down from heaven? ”
Paul wrote, “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 RSVA). Many people claim to be Christians, yet do their lives show the reality of being “a new creation”? Have their “old things passed away”? I was saved out of right-winged radicalism with murder and hatred in my heart and overnight I was transformed into a new creation IN Christ when God put his Spirit in me, yet the temptation is there to revert back to that old political mindset and I have to acknowledge where that temptation is coming from and turn away. It take a lot more faith to rest in Christ than it does to think that real change can come about by political means.
I often thought of myself as a revolutionary and wanted to change America back to its constitutional roots. Yet, true salvation IN Christ is the only total revolutionary reality. We are made NEW creatures, with new hearts, given a NEW Spirit and made one with the Father and the Son IN Christ and are made citizens of the NEW Jerusalem which is above. All things are become new and the old are passed away.
There is a story in Luke that shows that the disciples of Jesus still were still of the old kingdoms of men mindset,
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You know not what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
(Luke 9:51-56 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
How many of us are of this spirit today? If somebody gets in the way of your faction and its goals, smoke ’em! How many churches rallied behind George Bush when he waged a holy war against Saddam Husein for the destruction of the Trade Towers in New York? A Christianized church-going sinner is still a sinner, but one who truly has been born of the will of the Father in the Spirit is a NEW creation and is no longer a citizen of this world, but is of the NEW Israel of God and his life will show it. These will find themselves to be exiles and pilgrims in a strange land in short order. They will be accused by the worldly people around them that they are “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly [worldly] good.”
Men were constantly trying to pull Jesus down to the level of this world and get Him to settle disputes between them over an inheritance or over whether to pay taxes to Ceasar and many followed Him in hopes that they could all join up under His leadership and rise up against the Romans and cast them out of Judea. Yet, Jesus made it quite clear that His kingdom was (and is not now) of this world. This whole concept of “onward Christian soldiers, marching off to war…” and “holy war” is of THIS world! Did you know that the first “holy war” was waged by the first “Christian” Roman emperor, Constantine? He fought under the banner of the cross to take the city of Rome by force so that he could be the new Roman Emperor. With his newly acquired power he began to paganized Christianity to make it more compatible for all parties and often made pagan priests the priests of his new religion. He used force to make sure that there was only one religion in the Roman empire and the “holy wars” continued “in Jesus’ name” wherever people would not submit. The Prince of Peace in the minds of the faithful in Constantine’s Christendom was now the Prince of War. Thus was born “the Holy Roman Empire.” As a result of Christianity not willing to live by Jesus words, “love your enemies” Islam rose up in revenge by the power of the sword under Mohammad just three hundred years later and the Christians and the Muslims have been killing one another ever since. Why? Because neither of these factions KNOW what spirit they are of!
You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:43-45 KJ2000)
When the Pharisees in Jerusalem wanted to take Jesus and kill Him because He told them the truth about what was in their hearts, He told them that they were of their father the devil for he was a liar and a murder from the beginning. I pray that we may all be found to be “children of our Father who is in heaven.”