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10 March 2020

Kingdom of God or Christendom?

SYNOPSIS:  The deception of ‘Christendom’ is an attempt to domesticate the Jesus of scripture so he may be used to validate national institutions, ideologies, and values often more antichrist than Christian.

Photo by iam_os on Unsplash
By iam_os on Unsplash
The English term ‘Christendom,’ supposedly, refers to “that part of the world in which Christianity prevails,” either because most citizens claim to be Christian or because a specific church is recognized by a government as the official religion of that nation.

In political contexts, ‘Christendom’ is very often synonymous with “Western European civilization” and Christianity, therefore, becomes identified with specific nations, ideologies, and cultural norms.

This practice has prevailed since the merger of Church and State under the Roman emperor, Constantine the Great. The English term is a combination of “Christian” (or “Christianity) and “kingdom,” and one that is unique to English-speaking populations.

The term occurs nowhere in the Hebrew or Greek Bible. In contrast, the New Testament teaches about the universal kingdom of God in which the old barriers of social, national, and ethnic status have no place within the Body of Christ.

The term ‘Christendom’ is often a roadblock to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ since it associates Christianity with specific nations and cultures. This all too easily hardens hearts to the gospel among men and women not well-disposed to said nations and cultures, whatever the reasons for their dissatisfaction.

‘Christendom’ is a pale imitation, if not a counterfeit, of Christ’s proclamation of God’s Kingdom. Political operatives use it to advance their political agendas and to imply that God backs their presumption of power over others.

In contrast, Jesus called all men and women to repent and believe in God’s kingdom and sovereignty, a political reality that transcends all national, ethnical, economic, and cultural boundaries. By his death, Jesus redeemed men and women from every nation, tribe, tongue, and people, making them into a new “kingdom of priests” (Revelation 5:5-12).

In Christ,” no longer can there be divisions based on national identity, economic status or gender (Galatians 3:28). In him, God dissolved the “middle wall of partition” between the circumcised and uncircumcised, between Jew and Gentile. No one is advantaged or disadvantaged before God based on his or her gender or nationality.

Any attempt to identify or limit Christianity to a specific nation, culture, society or a whole “civilization,” contradicts scriptural teaching and constitutes idolatry. Jesus is not a Canadian, an Egyptian, a Russian or an American. God is one; He created and rules over all men. Jesus certainly was Jewish while on the earth but, now, he is elevated to be Lord over the entire Cosmos.

What counts is not national identity but whether a man or woman is “in Christ,” a disciple and a faithful member of his covenant community. Those who belong to him are children of the same Father, regardless of national origin.

The methods Jesus bequeathed to his people to establish his Kingdom differ from those of this age’s political institutions. Christians engage the world by means of Gospel proclamation and self-sacrificial service to others, not by the employment of economic or political might. The good news of God’s kingdom can only be spread through persuasion, not force.
The “weapons” that Jesus provides are perhaps impotent and contemptible in the eyes of the world, yet they are the very means by which he brought his message to humanity. His approach was epitomized in his submission to arrest, trial, and execution at the hands of an all-powerful empire.
The notion of a crucified messiah was considered weak by non-believers in the first century, and so it is today. But Christ crucified is “God’s very power and wisdom” (1 Corinthians1:24), a “wisdom” counterintuitive to the “wisdom” of this age. Christians may see this as unworkable, but the Cross is the walk to which they are called.

The more politicized Christians become, the more they identify Christianity with their nation, culture, and their chosen political ideology and, thus, embrace this insidious deception called ‘Christendom.’ “God is on our side and against theirs!!”

The same Jesus who suffered an unjust death on behalf of others, even for the “enemies of God,” is not the exclusive possession of any nation, society, culture or political system. The Cross of Christ stands always in opposition to the political agendas and cultural values of this age.

(Matthew 4:8-11) – “Again, the adversary taketh him with him into an exceeding high mountain — and pointeth out to him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and said to him, All these things, will I give thee — if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Withdraw, Satan! for it is written — The Lord thy God shalt thou worship, and to him alone render divine service. Then the adversary leaveth him” – (The Emphasized Bible).

The deception of ‘Christendom’ is an attempt to domesticate the Jesus of scripture so he may be used to validate national institutions, ideologies, and values often more antichrist than Christian. The irony in it all is that the institutions and forms of this age are already in the process of “passing away” as a result of Christ’s death, resurrection, and exaltation (1 Corinthians 7:28-31).

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