Writing of Donald Trump’s recent presidency, Gary Younge of The Guardian observed, “The venality is so baroque, the vulgarity so ostentatious, the inconsistencies so stark, the incompetence so epic and the lies so brazen, it leaves you speechless. His vanity is without guile and the scandals that embroil him without end. Almost everything he says and does has been publicly contradicted, by himself, usually on Twitter.”
This situation brings a novel slant to the words ‘God Fearing.’ This is the man who was elected with the help of much of the American Christian Church – which tells us something. Firstly, about Christian morality. Secondly about the partisan nature of that morality and its self-serving bias. Thirdly about what seems to be an unfortunate fact: That what passes for the Kingdom Jesus began is not in fact His Kingdom. Rather it is the culture of those who have developed a Christianised version of the knowledge of good and evil. But what we embrace is validated by its fruit. Or not. The words ‘abomination of desolation’ elicit shades of meaning of which we could well take note.
‘It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury-- how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!’ Prov 19.10 NIV.
A GROSS PRESUMPTION
If we are to make religion out of morality then it might be a good idea to possess a morality of the kind that trumps placing an incompetent at the head of what we like to call the “Free World.’ The Kingdom Jesus began is not primarily a kingdom of morality. That kind of kingdom places people like Jesus on the cross and elevates promoters of iniquity. Christ’s Kingdom is not even a religion. It is His life manifest in the people of the world. This is the meaning of ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ This is why the touchstone of any valid evidence of His Kingdom is Christ come in our flesh, which means Christ manifest holistically in those who believe.
John was blunt about religion that sidelines the incarnated Christ. ‘I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’ 2 John 1.7 NIV.
The church Jesus builds without human hands, which is to say without the help of the flesh and entirely by the Spirit, is the community of those for whom Christ is life. Not Christianity their life, but Jesus expressed in the person of the individual and the church made up of such individuals. This is quite a different interpretation of The Body than an institutional version of The Body. One is the letter and the other is Christ come in our flesh. One is an externality and the other is incarnation. One seeks to gain life from dead things and the other is Christ’s life that imparts life to dead externalities.
‘To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ Col 1.27 NIV. Why is this glory a realised hope? Because when Christ comes in our flesh the glory of Christ is revealed in our glory in becoming a true self as a son/daughter of God.
Jesus urged, ‘Realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20. No one lived like this before Christ. Following His resurrection all have the privilege of living ‘Christ our life.’
‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.4 NIV. This glory is a now glory as our True Self is revealed because we are hidden in Christ.
MORALIST RELIGION Gregory Boyd describes the Christian version of the knowledge of good and evil as ‘We choose to live from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of living in union with the Father, through Christ, in the power of the Spirit. Consequently, as was the case with the Pharisees in Jesus' day, the church has to a significant extent become the promoters and defenders of the very thing from which Christ came to free us.’ (1) Here we have the church making a virtue of living from the knowledge of good and evil (the law). A graphic description of this is found in Rick Joyner’s The Torch and the Sword. This is the plight of the church that lives from the old covenant while existing in un-blissful ignorance of the new.
‘I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one’ John 17.22 NIV.
Jesus’ Kingdom is realised not only as Christ in you. It manifests as Christ as you. This is to say, The Spirit of Jesus Christ is expressed in everyday life as Bob, Mary and Jane. This is what Paul meant by Christ our life – a far more transforming power than the pedestrian behaviour modification with ‘Jesus’ help’ so often pedalled in the halls of religion.
CHRISTIANISED VERSIONS OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL
Many of the books one can buy in Christian book shops are seriously written treatises that are Christian interpretations of the knowledge of good and evil. Of doing good and abstaining from evil, with Jesus help, of course. This might be the stuff of sermons every Sunday. But it’s not the substance of the Kingdom Jesus began. The core of Kingdom Life is His life as our life. This is the soil from which the new creation grows and along with it the anointing and the gifts.
Kingdom substance is His life as ours. In this Kingdom the substance is Christ come in our flesh, with Jesus manifest as you and I and His fullness represented by the church. In this way – in this new and living way – the way of the cross and the trinity incarnated in our being, we become the Kingdom of God, rather than rattling along as clubs of conformity. As a son/daughter of God you are the manifestation of the trinity. As the church in this vein, we are His Kingdom come in the world.
(1) Gregory A. Boyd. Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God (Kindle Locations 413-415). Kindle Edition.