The powerful God who reigns in weakness

What does it look like when Jesus unites humanity under his leadership as the kingdom of God? For the church today, that might be the most important question, because that’s our identity, and it defines our mission.

Firstly, this is a radically different kind of politics. We’re accustomed to the world of party politics. The Liberal Party seeks power from and for the business owners. The Labor Party seeks power for the workers. The Nationals seek power for the landowners, and so on. Within each party are factions (left, centre, right), each seeking to gain more control of the party, in the hope of their party controlling the country.

Then there’s the division of countries, with different political systems: democracy, socialism, monarchy, republic, and so on. On the world stage, countries fight for self-interest. Looking back, history looks like struggle of the species, a political “survival of the fittest.” The strongest beasts survive to rule the world, and the winners write history (compare Daniel 7).

The Bible describes an alternative story of politics. Earth’s true sovereign — the king we sideline when we grasp for power, fight wars, and subjugate each other — takes the side of the suffering, not those who cause their pain:

  • God chose an old boomer (Abraham), leading him away from the Babel-builders.
  • God rescued the suffering slaves in Egypt, not the Pharaohs.
  • God established a little nation (Israel), not the world-swallowing empires of Assyria, Babylon, and Alexander the Great.
  • God anointed Jesus of Nazareth to rule the earth, not Caesar of Rome.

People find this puzzling: “If God has all power, why is there suffering? Why doesn’t God do something?” We expect God to use his power to crush the wicked, but that’s not his way. God will not do evil to defeat evil. He leads by example, so we can learn from him.

God is working to replace the violent political systems of this world with his anointed ruler, the Prince of Peace. Our heavenly sovereign is not seeking revenge from the world that rejected and crucified his Son. He’s rescuing the people who suffer at the hands of the beasts, calling us to recognize our true, divinely appointed king. God’s strategy in saving the world from the dominion of evil relies on the inversion of power.

The gospel is not that God so hated the world that he crushed those who do evil. It is that God so loved the world that he gave us his true and only Prince — the Son who represents the reign of his Father — so that those who trust his leadership are led out of a perishing existence under evil, into life in his eternal reign. For God sent his Son not to condemn the world (crushing it into submission), but to rescue the world through him (see on John 3:16-17).

God is replacing the political power systems of this world with his anointed, the king the world rejected, the crucified king.

The Almighty has taken the powerless path, modelling for us the loving community he intends the earth to be:

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (my translation, compare NIV)
26 See what you were when God called you, my family. Not many were regarded as wise; not many held positions of power; not many came from the elite.
27 God choose the foolish people of the world, in order to humiliate the wise. God chose the incapacitated, in order to humiliate the strong.
28 God chose the peasants of the world, the ones people despise, the nobodies to replace the somebodies.
29 He did this so not a single person could brag about their position before God.
30 It’s God’s action that places you in Jesus’ reign. It all happened in him: God’s wisdom and justice towards us, our holy standing and rescued status.
31 God’s story has always been written like this: “You want to brag? Brag about who God is.”

What’s it like to live under this kind of ruler? We’re a grass-roots movement, a people who don’t expect the powerful people of this world to save us. We’re a community who are not committed to accumulating wealth, fame, or power. We’re committed to the one true king who gave his life to rescue the world from the dominion of evil, to restore the world into his Father’s reign.

Can you help us to function as the community that follows the powerful king on the powerless path? How can we represent the ruler who rescues his people through the power of love, not the love of power?

What others are saying

The pyramids were a symbol of colossal vanity.
— Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: Picard, S1 E1.

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Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

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