JOHN 17:14-19: “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: What does Christmas have to do with the United States and the Kingdom of God? This may sound like a strange question to some, but I think there is a great deal of confusion among many believers between these lines. To put it another way, did Jesus come to establish an earthly system of government, or were His purposes completely directed toward something else?
I love the fact that the history of the United States shows that the original founding fathers based the founding documents of our nation upon Biblical principles. Many of them were true confessing Christians. The original settlers came to America to enjoy religious freedom. You can see Biblical and Christian influence in every area of our society. This is where the train is easily derailed. It is for this very reason that many confuse the Kingdom of God with the United States.
I love our country. I know that the United States is an imperfect government. Yet, I know that it has been the foremost beacon for good in a very dark and dismal world. However, Jesus did not come to this earth to establish the United States of America. In fact, as you study Bible prophecy, it is hard to even identify the United States in the unfolding of the end times. Jesus’ purpose for coming was entirely different. Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to call men and women to repentance!
- “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 NKJV
Jesus did not try to overtake the Roman government. He did not attempt a political coup over the Sanhedrin and establish Himself as the ruling power in Judea. Jesus came to proclaim God’s Kingdom, to call us to repentance, to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, to defeat sin and death, and to rise again to sit on the right hand of the Father. In Jesus’ final prayer in John 17 we see Jesus’ true intent for His disciples!
- “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
Let’s break this down.
- The disciples were hated by the world (and the world system) because they had embraced the Word of God.
- Jesus prayed that while in the world they would be protected from the evil one (and the worldly systems that he controls).
- Jesus prayed that His Word would be the determining factor to keep them separated from the world and its systems.
- Finally, Jesus commissioned them to go out into the world and proclaim the Kingdom of God and call men and women to repentance (making disciples of all nations, Matthew 28:18-20)
There is nothing in this prayer about a worldly government. There is an outline for the church and its mission. Yet, the church in America has become enamored with things political and has left its true calling. We grieve the direction that our nation is taking and yearn for the good old days. Yet, as the church, we fail to understand why our nation once aligned itself with Biblical values.
It was because the church was fulfilling its true call!
If there is any hope for our nation it will not be from political strategies or campaigns to – “Get out the vote!” It will only come when the church begins to fulfill its call to proclaim the Kingdom of God and call men and women to repentance. Only changed hearts can change a nation. The church has been duped by the enemy to believe that we can change our current situation from the outside. Jesus did not come to start a political party. He came to seek and save the lost and call them to Himself. He came to establish the Kingdom of God within our hearts.
It is Kingdom-hearted people that take the values of the Kingdom into this fallen world in which we live.
My prayer is that the church will begin to be less focused on activities and become more focused on souls. Whatever we do must lead people to the cross. Jesus met human needs when He walked this earth. Yet, He never did this apart from proclaiming the Kingdom of God and calling men and women to repentance.
The Great Commission is to make disciples not to run churches, overtake governments, or transform culture. It is to seek and save the lost. It is to call men and women out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
To truly fulfill God’s call will be a counter-culture movement. It always has been this from the very beginning. We will need to be willing to pay the price of discipleship to fulfill its call. The world did not celebrate the life and ministry of Jesus – the world crucified Him! And, if we truly proclaim the Kingdom of God in this ungodly world our story will be no different than His!
- “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17:14 NKJV
Lord, seek my heart and know my ways. Am I striving to please men or to please You? Am I willing to take up my cross and follow You? This Christmas season, call me back to my true purpose through Your truth. Give me a burden for souls. Let my prayers be turned toward the harvest. Let me call others, in the power of Your love – “Repent, and believe the Gospel for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”
In Jesus’ Name!