Exploring the interplay between ortho-doxy (right belief) and ortho-praxy (right action)...

...and encouraging a life where these intertwined thoughts and deeds simply happen... by default.

5 April 2007

of kings and kingdoms (4-7-07)

The first followers of Jesus said many various things about Jesus.
(this is not a huge statement)

Particularly, they called Jesus 'the King' and 'Lord'.
(these, however, were most certainly huge statements then...)

I'm not going to focus on the Jewish side of things, and what it would have meant for them to call Jesus 'King' or 'Lord' - but I will focus on the Greek/Roman side of things...

The Romans hailed Caesar as Lord and King, and allegiance to him was demanded at basically every turn. Prison, torture or death - or maybe all three! - if you didn't...

The followers of Jesus withheld their allegiance from Caesar.

I wonder how bold they were about this...

Perhaps we'll never know. Did they keep their noses down and only admit it when pressed to it? Did they rub the Romans' noses in it? I don't know...

But what I am convinced of is this:

Their message and Kingdom of Jesus was offensive to the world of Caesar.

The Kingdom of Jesus is up-side down compared to the world of Caesar.

Check this out...

In Acts 17, we see that Paul and Silas preached the message about Jesus to Jews (and Gentile listeners - called 'devout Greeks' or 'God-fearers') in Thessolonica - which was a Roman city. The message was (and still is, by the way!) that Jesus was 'the Christ' (meaning God's annointed - you guessed it - King.). They convinced LOTS of people ('a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women').

The Jews were livid. They gathered what the text calls 'evil men' (I'm guessing like 'hit men' or something?) from the marketplace, and searched for Paul and Silas to have them... well... you know... probably killed - or something. Apparently, they didn't find them, so they grabbed who they were staying with...

They "...dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city (meaning the 'Greek' people in charge of Thessolonica), crying out, 'These (meaning Paul, Silas and the other Apostles) who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these (meaning 'Jason and some brethren') are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, (and what were they doing that was 'contrary?) saying there is another King - Jesus.' " (Acts 17:6-7 NKJV - my emphasis and distracting notes added)

Paul and Silas didn't stay to try and sort things out...

The message and Kingdom of Jesus denies allegiance to all other would-be Kings, Lords, Caesars, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Dictators and more.

More than that (as if that's not enough!) it also turns the world 'upside down'.

-Does your faith turn YOUR world 'upside down'?

-Are you acting contrary to the decrees of 'Caesar'?

-Are you saying (with your time, money, etc.) that there is 'another King - Jesus'?

May the Kingdom people be about the King's business.
May we feel the tension of living in a world that gives allegiance to various other Kings.
May we encourage and strengthen each other to stick it to the false Kings around us...
...in the name of the real King - Jesus.


John said...

Excellent post, Dale.

By the way, criminal prisons, as we know them, didn't come into existence until the 18th century in the US. Criminals were punished publicly; beatings, flogging, caning (in Asia), or executions. Prisons were horrid places and reserved for those that opposed the current leadership/king/lord/etc.

When a king was overthrown and a new king had taken over, often times the political prisoners were set free. When we talk about "captives" being "set free," we are saying that there is a New King! Jesus!

dale said...

Very nice, John.

I shall remember that one!

And thanks again for your warm comments!