I want to invite you to turn in a bible to Luke chapter 2. This is one of our primary texts that we will be looking at together this morning. But before we jump into the Scriptures, I want to put an image on the screen to begin stirring up our imaginations.
This is a picture that has made a lot of buzz on the Internet. An artist named Jon McNaughton painted it. As you can see, the focal point of the picture is Jesus who is holding the US Constitution in one hand and pointing to it with the other.
I can imagine that there are several of you here this morning that see this picture as exactly what our country needs to remember, that Jesus must be the center of everything we do as a nation. I want to commend this kind of first impression, for if our desire is anything less that putting Jesus in the center, then we miss the point of living. Jesus must be central in all we do.
However, I also think that there is a second kind of reaction that is also appropriate for a first impression. Some of us in this room see this picture with a bit of suspicion. You may be like me. You love the fact that you live in a nation that has given you opportunities to experience freedom and privilege in ways that the rest of the world does not get to enjoy. However, you might be a bit concerned about an image like this that seems to link Jesus so closely with our national identity. For this kind of reaction (and especially if someone is originally from another country), this image may beg an important question: Does Jesus play favorites when it comes to the kingdoms of this world? This question has become more important in modern times as we truly have become a globalized world. To take this question a step further, today we need to also ask: How does government and faith interact in the New Testament and what implications should this have on our lives as citizens of the Kingdom of God? Who’s Kingdom and Which Lord ought to receive our allegiance?
Kurt Willems is an Anabaptist writer and pastor who is preparing for church planting next year by finishing work towards a Master of Divinity degree at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. He writes at: the Pangea Blog and is also on Twitter and Facebook