Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
But today in the religious world there are multitudes who, as they believe, are working for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ as an earthly and temporal dominion. They desire to make our Lord the ruler of the kingdoms of this world, the ruler in its courts and camps, its legislative halls, its palaces and market places. They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority. Since Christ is not now here in person, they themselves will undertake to act in His stead, to execute the laws of His kingdom. The establishment of such a kingdom is what the Jews desired in the days of Christ. They would have received Jesus, had He been willing to establish a temporal dominion, to enforce what they regarded as the laws of God, and to make them the expositors of His will and the agents of His authority. But He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. He would not accept the earthly throne.
Ellen G. White – The Desire of Ages p.509.2
Present day application
Each time the US presidential elections are near, we get a chance to listen to the candidate’s election speeches. Have you noticed that they almost always end with: “God bless America”? In certain countries, having a “blessing” of a bishop is considered a significant advantage over the other political candidates. In others, one political party rules without being challenged only because they have the support of the nation’s main Christian denomination. There are plenty of other examples of church and state intermingling.
The words of Jesus are plain – His kingdom is not of this world! The Lord himself always avoided being dragged into supporting any side of the temporal power. Most of His disciples wanted to crown Him king of the Jews so that He can use his powers to overthrow the Romans. The Jewish religious leaders, on the other hand, tried to get him in trouble when they asked Him if they should pay taxes to the Romans. His answer straightened the issue forever – church and state should be separate.
No Christian should try to take any part in the establishment of the so-called Kingdom of Heaven through the help of civil governments and their legislation. This is not how God operates. He wants to live in our hearts and in our minds. He wants to use our bodies as His temple. He wants to dwell in us so that through our good works He can be glorified. It is not His intention to establish an earthly kingdom. He desires to make us fit for His kingdom while there is still time. Once His Kingdom is within us, then He will return and take us to the New Jerusalem.
65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
When Jesus presented the testing truth that caused so many of His disciples to turn back, He knew what would be the result of His words; but He had a purpose of mercy to fulfill. He foresaw that in the hour of temptation every one of His beloved disciples would be severely tested. His agony in Gethsemane, His betrayal and crucifixion, would be to them a most trying ordeal. Had no previous test been given, many who were actuated by merely selfish motives would have been connected with them. When their Lord was condemned in the judgment hall; when the multitude who had hailed Him as their king hissed at Him and reviled Him; when the jeering crowd cried, “Crucify Him!”—when their worldly ambitions were disappointed, these self-seeking ones would, by renouncing their allegiance to Jesus, have brought upon the disciples a bitter, heart-burdening sorrow, in addition to their grief and disappointment in the ruin of their fondest hopes. In that hour of darkness, the example of those who turned from Him might have carried others with them. But Jesus brought about this crisis while by His personal presence He could still strengthen the faith of His true followers.
Ellen G. White – Desire of Ages p.394.2
Present day application
The scenario described by apostle John is being repeated each time the Gospel is presented to someone for the first time. There are only two choices: to follow or not to follow the Saviour. Some decide to follow for the wrong reason, but sooner or later the words of Christ will make them realise their selfish motives. They will face the choice again – to follow Him or to go back and walk with Him no more. God does not force himself upon anyone. The choice we all face is between two styles of governance: through coercion (Satan) and through love (God).
In my personal Christian walk, I had those moments of hesitation as well. I remember first reading about God commanding the utter destruction of entire tribes, or about the gouging of one’s eye and cutting off of one’s arm. I have been struggling with those passages and I know others have too. Nevertheless, I could not see any other way to salvation and I always ended up repeating to myself the words of Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
I have also experienced situations when I have shared a biblical truth with someone and from then on our relations have gotten worse or the person has unfollowed me on social media. I always feel sorry when this happens, as I know that if that person does not change their mind, it might lead them to perdition. Whatever doubts you might have as you read God’s word, always remember that God knows best. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to a better understanding. Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you.