he day after Epiphany, after Three King’s Day, the day that’s believed that the three wise men followed the star to the feet of the God-King, I can’t stop thinking how I once met a man on the other side of the world who told me:
“You have to come into the King’s presence, before you can go out into the King’s world.”
He told me how, in many places on this planet still today, there are people groups who have to have come into their King’s presence, before they can go out and do any work with their King’s blessing.
And the day after what some call Epiphany, I am having an epiphany of my own:
Before we can go out into the world, we have to come into His presence.
And day after day, of coming into the King of King’s presence, you come to realize you’re pledging allegiance to this King of the Upside Down Kingdom who aligns Himself with those who are pressed down, with those who are crying for justice in the streets.
You come to realize:
The King of King’s mandate is never one country first, but that those who choose to go last will ultimately be first.
The King of Kings doesn’t align with one national party, but He aligns all His people in one global church.
The King of Kings is about every nation, every tribe and every tongue pledging allegiance to one banner of self-sacrificing, cruciform Love.
And allegiance to the Way of Jesus means that godly ends never justifies ungodly ways.
When Christians believe pledging allegiance to a national leader can save their vision of the world, that is no longer Christianity; that is nationalism. And cloaked idolatry.
When one’s flag-waving Christianity could not possibly translate to Rwanda, Haiti, the Philippines or Aruba, it’s no longer Christianity; that is nationalism. And antithetical to the Kingdom of God.
When one’s Christianity more readily links arms with supremacists more than with believers of different nationalities — or with believers who supported different political positions — that’s not Christianity; that is nationalism. And it’s self-harm against the body of Christ.
Evangelicalism infected with nationalism isn’t Christianity, but a syncretism of demonic white supremacism.
Faith that is more hungry for power than caring for the hungry isn’t a faith that follows Christ. Faith that is intoxicated with power has never drank Christ’s cup.
Maybe the epiphany that comes on Epiphany, on Three Kings Day, is that:
When Christians make an idol out of nation, they make an altogether false Christ.
In the church’s earnestness to make an enraged, hurting world Christian, how many of us Christians have become enraged, and hurt Christ’s witness?
Because when we pledge allegiance to the King of Kings, our purpose is never to leverage political power to protect self-interests, but to pick up our cross, because the sacrificial cruciform ways of Christ leverages a completely otherworldly power that’s interested in protecting others.
Genuine followers of Jesus do care about politics, not because they care about gaining power, but because they care about helping the people who are disempowered. St. Paul and the Apostle John and King David, prove power is never about self-interests but for caring for the interests of others so they know God is interested in them.
True Christianity is never rooted in state power, but in the saving, serving, sacrificing power of Christ.
And we are all invited to be part of a faithful global body of Christ-followers from around the world who link arms and quietly kneel down to live it:
The Jesus of the Bible isn’t about striving after worldly power — but about sacrificing for worthy principles.
The Jesus of the Bible rejects all forms of supremacy as a demonic stain on true Christianity.
The Jesus of the Bible calls us to submit to our national governments and call out national idolatry, to pray for our leaders and never let any leader lead us away from living the humble, sacrificial way of our only Leader.
When we pledge allegiance to the King of Kings, we don’t think the “other side” should cease to exist, but believe we actually exist to love everyone so well that they see Jesus inside of us — and long to have Him touch the wounds in their side too.
Allegiance to the King of Kings is about welcoming everyone, especially someone on the “other side,” to our personal tables, because Christ knows there is more than one side to any common table, and yet we are called to be God’s grace and live broken and given to each other, so we are all transformed into the image of Christ.
The real good news is that anyone born anywhere on the planet can have citizenship in the one true Christian nation in the world, the Ekklesia, to be the ones who are “called out” of this world into the Ekklesia, the global Church that is without borders, without racism, without idolatry, without enemies, without flags, because the only banner over us is the Love that reconciles God and humans in a healing communion of transformation.
And because our citizenship is in heaven, we, as the Ekklesia, the bride of Christ, who will be from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,” will one day stand before our Bridegroom Christ, we can do nothing less than to begin to be about ushering in His new kingdom now, through racial justice and reconciliation, through cruciform immigration and refugee care, through a robust womb-to-tomb, Consistent Pro—Life Ethic, not because it’s political, but this is what it means to live cruciform and biblical.
Christ-followers who believe the good news believe that wherever they stand has to be compassionate good news for the marginalized and vulnerable and struggling, or it’s fake news and not Jesus’ news.
Christ-followers believe it’s not too late to realize the lateness and direness and the gravity of the hour, and that, no matter what, we are here for such a time as now, not to just gain power, or the upper hand, but to be the just, healing, restorative hands of Jesus.
Christ-followers believe the true way to fight the dark is not with outrage, but with outreach.
Because this is the critical moment that resonates with the reality of it:
“If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive… from someplace else — but you and your family will die.” Es. 4:14
“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
If we persist in staying silent at a time like this kind of injustice, at a time like this kind of division, of racial oppression, and in-utero destruction, at a time like this kind of decision — not only may our Christian witness die, but more of those who are oppressed and marginalized, who are our own family, will die.
Our Jesus died for more justice and shalom than this.
For such a time as now, it’s worth risking to love cruciform, to reach out to our neighbor, to stand for Gospel-saturated justice, to lay down privilege, to live the way of costly faith.
And all around the world, the day after Three King’s Day?
A whole world of believers come again into their King’s presence, only to be so deeply transformed, that there is this brave going out from the King’s presence to live the Upside Down Kingdom of wildly transformative and tangible hope.