By: Zac Cannon
In February 1945, skilled Japanese counterintelligence officer Hiroo Onoda recognized defeat was imminent at the hands of the invading American forces where he was stationed in the Philippines. He fled with three other men into the jungle and continued the engage in guerilla tactics against their opposition.
Eight months later, Onoda and his men came across something of great interest: a leaflet announcing the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II. Studying the leaflet carefully, Onoda dismissed it as a fake, propaganda, and continued to engage in guerilla warfare…for another 29 years.
It was not until March 11, 1974, that Hiroo Onada offered his military sword to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos to express his complete surrender.
One article said, “The story of Hiroo Onoda is one of dedication and courage, as well as stubbornness and delusion.”
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the announcement that we have peace with God and with each other; that we have been set free – liberated from– the broken systems of this world created through mankind’s propensity toward sin and selfishness and death; freedom found in and through Jesus Christ.
But despite this announcement of a new King and a new kingdom, like Hiroo Onada, we too often ignore that the war is actually over. We are, stubbornly, creatures of conflict. Our flesh rails against ideas of grace and peace.
Our own failure to surrender to the Gospel and participate in the Kingdom of God is fueled by our own “dedication and courage, as well as stubbornness and delusion.”
Centuries past and times present have established more than enough of evidence that one of the greatest challenges faced by the leaders, voices, and people of the Church is the neglect and forgetfulness of this truth: the kingdom of God does not advance like the kingdom of the world do.
No, the kingdom of God is subversive. Rebellious. Counterintuitive and counter-cultural.
Perhaps this is why any attempt to create a “Christian” empire or nation through political and religious domination – ever since the Israelite’s cried, “Give us a king like all the other nations have!”– has resulted in nothing less than SPECTACULAR MESS!
Under the surface of even the most well-manicured, polite “Christian” society there lies buried the evidence of gross moraland ethicalfailures:
- Abuse of power and privilege for the sake of control (domestic and abroad)
- Use of the machine of war for conquest and dominion (for centuries)
- Building nations and empires on the backs of foreign and domestic slaves
- Ruthless genocide of indigenous populations around the world
This is not evidence of the kingdom of God advancing…but of the stubbornness and delusion of a mob mentality perpetuated by people waving the banner of Christ atop the broken bodies and through the broken ideas and systems that Christ came to put to death.
To the eyes of the world that may look like victory…but through the eyes of Christ it is nothing less than utter defeat!
As followers of Christ, we are those whose primary means of participating in advancing the kingdom of God is through the same means that Christ established it, and Christ refused to play by the rules of this world’s kingdom and its broken systems.
Instead,He lived in this world with upside down, God-inspired, Spirit-led radical life-giving recklessness that abandoned self for the sake of others.
Christ shunned the world’s expectation to establish a kingdom through might, coercion, and the spilled bloodofHis enemies…in favor of a vision and values shaped by Divinity AND lived out in humanity that climaxed on a cross where He spilled His blood forthose who opposed Him.
To the eyes of the world it looked like defeat…but through the eyes of the risen Christ it is nothing less than complete victory!
Here’s the real deal, Church:“We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil.”
The kingdom of Goddoes notadvance by fighting AGAINSTpeople but fighting FOR people!
Even those who should by all rights be our enemy are seen with humanity, dignity, and worth.
“If possible,” the Apostle Paul writes, “to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people…If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head. Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good.”
The Kingdom of God advances not with a sword, but by a cross. Not by holding onto one’s life, but by losing it. Not by building towers, but by fostering a community. Not be conformity, but by transformation.
“Neither by power, nor by strength, but by my spirit, says the Lord.”
The prophet Jeremiah surveyed the culture of his day – the people unmoved by those who were hurting, broken, enslaved, lost, forgotten, imprisoned, starving, and dying in their midst – and he wept, writing, “They treat the wound of my people as if it were nothing:‘All is well, all is well,’ they insist,when in fact nothing is well.’”
“Nothing is well,” cries the prophet.
“Nothing is well,” says the newscaster/the Twitter feed/the Facebook timeline.
“Behold, I am making all things new,” replies the Christ.
The kingdom of God belongs to the hopeless, the grieving, the humble, the merciful, the peacemakers, the harassed, the oppressed…and to all of those who fight for them, hungering and thirsty for righteousness.
May we be spurned on by these words to the same lifestyle of upside down, God-inspired, Spirit-led radical life-giving recklessness that Jesus led; abandoning self for the sake of other as we PARICIPATEin advancing the kingdom of God.
“Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
1 Samuel 8:5