Cross or Club?

As a young disciple, I was taught NOT to be “unequally yoked together” with this world and its values. Yes, conditions around the globe were tragic, but what did we expect from a system that was enslaved to sin and under Satan’s boot? What humanity needed was the Good News of the Kingdom of God, not another flawed political philosophy. Since the “forms” of the present age are already “passing away,” why waste time “working for the meat that perishes”?

Did not Jesus command us to proclaim the Gospel “to all nations”? To invest our time and resources in reforming a society that was judged already on the Cross makes no sense, biblically speaking. Far more compelling than the arguments of a great many preachers are the examples of Jesus when he faced the political realities of his day.

Cruciform - Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
[Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash]

Unfortunately, popular preachers summon believers to engage in political activism as they attempt to use the coercive power of the State to purify the culture, restore society to some mythological pristine state, and otherwise stop wickedness. Never mind that resorting to 
THAT solution always results in doing a little evil to accomplish some alleged greater good. Or more often, a great deal of evil.

When Satan offered him political power, Jesus rejected it. So, why do we presume to embrace and exploit the very thing that he refused? The Devil tempted him by offering him “all the kingdoms of the world.” All he needed to do was to “fall down and swear fealty” to the Tempter - (Matthew 4:8-9, Luke 4:5-7).

In contrast to the Crucified Messiah, many church leaders and “ministries” eagerly adopt the political methods of this age, a system that expects them to accommodate their lives and values to this evil age, JUST AS Satan demanded homage as the price of political power. Acquiring and wielding it requires accepting the Devil as your overlord.

According to Satan, the kingdoms of this age “have been delivered to me and I give them to whomever I will.” Very strikingly, JESUS DID NOT DISPUTE HIS CLAIM! This exchange begins to explain why human governments so often exhibit beastly and even satanic behavior.

Imagine what great good Jesus could do if he sat on Caesar’s throne! Would not righteousness prevail across the Earth if he possessed Rome’s military and economic might? Who was better positioned to wield the power of Rome’s legions for the “greater good” than the Prince of Peace?


Unlike so many today, Jesus embraced the way of the cross. In God’s Kingdom, victory is achieved through humble obedience and the denial of one’s own “rights.” His domain is characterized by self-sacrificial service and acts of mercy rather than force, corruption, and violence.

Satan’s political intrigues did not end with Christ’s victory in the wilderness. Following his rebuff, the “Devil departed from him until an opportune time.” Jesus faced the same challenge again after miraculously feeding a multitude. Apparently, certain members of the crowd “were about to seize him, that they might make him king” - (Luke 4:13, John 6:15).

Rather than accept kingship imposed by the mob, Jesus walked away, an act that turned many minds against him. He refused to become the militaristic messiah that so many expected. The closer he came to Calvary, the more the fickle crowds rejected him and the kind of Kingdom that he proclaimed.

Later, the representative of Rome inquired whether he was “the king of the Jews.” Jesus did not deny his kingship:

  • You say that I am a king. I was born for this … But my kingdom is not FROM (ek) this world. If my kingdom was from this world my own officers would fight that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But now my kingdom is NOT FROM HERE” - (John 18:33-36).

He did not claim that his kingdom was “spiritual” or otherworldly. The source of his sovereignty was something other than the kind of political power that characterizes this sinful world. The coming “Kingdom of God” was of an entirely different nature, and it had nothing to do with Rome or Caesar.

The Roman governor found no fault in Jesus and was about to release him. However, at the instigation of the Temple authorities, the crowd demanded that Pilate release Barabbas instead, a léstés (Greek) or “brigand,” and a known murderer.

The priestly leaders preferred a violent political revolutionary over the Suffering Servant of Yahweh, the same Messiah who “took on the form of a slave” and became “obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” Thus, also, it remains to this day. We dislike the Jesus described in Scripture, so we create and proclaim a “different Jesus,” the popular ‘Roaring Lion of Judah’ rather than the “slain Lamb.”

Institutional Christianity has a long and often blood-stained history of mixing Church and State, and History provides a multitude of examples of the folly and criminality that result from this poisonous mixture.

Pantheon by Daniel Klaffke on Unsplash
[Pantheon by Daniel Klaffke on Unsplash]

Apparently, we do not yet understand what 
state power is, how it is exercised, and who is the power behind the throne. To advance the Gospel through the political system necessitates resorting to the coercive power of the State, something Jesus NEVER did, and doing so repudiates all that he did and suffered for on the Cross.

The choice is whether to walk the cruciform path trod by Jesus or the smooth highway offered by Satan that ends in Rome at Caesar’s throne. Should we, his disciples, embrace what he rejected?

By its nature, the political systems and ideologies of this age are incompatible with the proclamation of “Christ Crucified” and the way of the Cross to which Jesus summons us. Immersion into partisan politics results inevitably in the corruption of the Body of Christ. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

  • Fleeting Power - (Only God’s kingdom will prevail and endure in the end. All other political powers are transitory. Already they are passing away)
  • The True Emperor - (The New Testament applies messianic promises in the Psalms to the present reign of Jesus who possesses all authority in Heaven and on Earth)
  • Whomever He Pleases - (Yahweh, the God of Israel, changes the times and seasons, removes kings, and sets up kings as He to achieve His purposes)