Today’s the day! Your candidate will either win or he won’t.
Either way, I wanted to mention something that has been on my heart for the entirety of 2020. It feels like American Christians have forgotten that our primary citizenship is with Christ and our American nationality is secondary.
Messiah has already come, folks.
This is supposed to be supremely good news…it’s the gospel! I am so sad that the term has begun to fall flat.
Did you know that “gospel” was historically a political term? I recently learned that the concept of gospel (which is “euangelion” in the Greek) preceded the Messiah by centuries. Though we gloss easily over the term, it’s far more than meets the eye.
Euangelion/gospel was actually political concept employed in the Greco-Roman world, and maybe even earlier. When an emperor would take over a new area, a designated messenger would deliver a grand pronouncement to the populace. The messenger essentially proclaimed, “Good news! You now are a part of our great empire, and therefore have full access to all its benefits.” If you want to know more–listen to this!
The arrival of the new empire brought the gospel of improved infrastructure, new forms of culture, education, entertainment, and sports. It disseminated the lingua franca, and best of all, it would mean a greater measure of civil order and peace, especially Pax Romana.
So, when the New Testament writers used the term “gospel,” the first-century readers readily understood it in a political context. They understood that a gospel coming to town would be an all-encompassing, paradigm-changing cultural upheaval. The scripture writers and readers in their time connected the dots that the Kingdom of God brought both a physical and spiritual Gospel. Followers of the Messiah are citizens of God’s far superior empire.
Jesus was and is the ultimate King, and he brought about a final gospel, a comprehensive euangelion–for all peoples, for all time. Marty Solomon calls it the “Empire of Shalom.” It surpasses any human system of government. Humanity will never grow out of it, or progress beyond it. It’s finished. And we have full access to all its earthly and eternal advantages.
This is such good news!
The “go to heaven when we die” mentality throws us off track. It rouses a resignation mindset: as long as we’ve professed our faith in Christ/believe God raised him from the dead, we’ve scored our ticket to heaven. So we just sit the bench, and essentially to be evacuated from here to somewhere…else.
But the world to come will be creation restored—and the bodily, physical resurrection of Jesus is our first glimpse of the restoration. When the Messiah returns, creation will follow suit. Our bodies and the earth will be renewed to their original state—dripping with glory— free of pain, sorrow, or death. No more hate, abuse, pollution, hunger, victimization, oppression. Our eyes, the eyeballs that are in our heads right now, will get to see the healing of this world that we are all screaming out for.
Now THAT is a Kingdom to get excited about.
Unity, love, reconciliation, and emotional prosperity are intangibles. They are spiritual. We are (loudly) demanding self-control, peace, kindness, gentleness from a U.S. President. And it seems we are expecting a political party to disseminate them to us.
The American identity crisis has metastasized because we are expecting spiritual prosperity from our political system. Spiritual prosperity is only attained through spiritual channels. This stuff is not going to come from any elected American president.
If your candidate loses, you’ll be gutted. But don’t fret! Messiah continually told us that the activated Kingdom of God is here! It’s higher! It’s not on hold until He returns. It transcends our national and ethnic boundaries. There is plenty of exciting work to be done, and a universal need for us to continue creating. We usher more of it in with every nugget of Truth we share, each kind word we speak, every thoughtful gesture we offer, every time we step out of our comfort zone to see and meet someone’s need.
Every faithful deed grows it a bit more.
We’re invited to join, which gives us both team and a cause, here’s a huge dopamine hit in that!* I hope soon, VERY soon, He will come back and finish the rest of it.
Note: The word “gospel” came from the Latin evangelium, which came from the Greek “euangelion.” Literally translated, it means good news: from Old English gōdspel (translation of Late Latin evangelium), from gōd good + spell tale.
*me quoting Rosaria Butterfield, who was quoting the book Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier