“My Dad could beat up on your Dad any day!”
“Oh yeah? My Dad would just clobber your old man!”
Are conversations like that still heard on schoolyards? They were common when I was a boy, little boys trying to establish superiority over others, based on their fathers’ credentials. I never joined in those taunts, because I just couldn’t imagine my Dad getting into a fight — an argument yes, but not a fight.
The Jews of Jesus’ day were a lot like those little boys — they dreamed of a Messiah who would come and utterly defeat the Romans who lorded it over them and then they would be able to lord it over all mankind, using Messiah’s credentials.
Christianity has been used to the same ends, the Pope reigning over kings and emperors because he supposedly exercised all the authority of Jesus upon the earth. Other brands of Christianity emerged in later years, each one exercising exclusive authority over its “Christian” nation, always in the name of Jesus.
The fragmentation of Christendom made the idea of a denominational domination less believable; but the post-millennial teaching still promised that Christians would rule the world. The gospel would slowly permeate the whole world until Christians were in control everywhere, and then the millennium would begin.
Dispensational pre-millennialism first saw the light of day in 1840 and by the beginning of the twentieth century it was fully primed to take over when post-millennial hopes began to fade. Proponents of this teaching believe that Christians will suddenly be removed from the earth, following which a seven year “great tribulation” will break the power of Antichrist and all the forces opposed to God. Then will begin the millennium, with Jesus as earthly lord, and, of course, Christians will reign with Him.
Didn’t the Jews turn against Jesus because they wanted a Messiah who would make them superior to all other people? Aren’t Christians who dream of Jesus as a cosmic conqueror making the same mistake?
The kingdom of Jesus is a spiritual kingdom, and He wants us to have victory over our spiritual enemies, the thoughts and intents of our hearts. ” Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19). When some of Jesus’ followers asked Him if they should call for fire to fall from heaven on an unfriendly village, He responded: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” (Luke 9:55).
The apostle Paul also taught of the spiritual kingdom: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).
If the Lord Jesus Christ is truly reigning in my heart, then I should feel no impulse to want to lord it over anyone else.