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I recently visited Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. I am always impressed by a national capital.
A capital is where a nation makes a special effort to put its best foot forward. The imposing buildings on Parliament Hill symbolize Canada’s history and its traditions of democracy. On display there are Canada’s national treasures, along with statues and portraits of the men and women whose vision and courage helped make Canada what it is today.
As the capital city of Canada, Ottawa plays host to the embassies of many nations. The embassy compounds of Canada’s major allies and trading partners are striking facilities. Some have been specially constructed to reflect the architecture and traditions of the embassy’s homeland. Others are splendid old mansions that have been converted for diplomatic use.
Even poor, struggling nations find a way to have impressive embassies. An embassy is an outpost of the home country, and it is expected to make a positive impression, regardless of conditions at home.
The kingdom of God, by contrast, does not have impressive embassy compounds in the world’s capital cities. In this world, the kingdom of God is an invisible kingdom – invisible like the Holy Spirit who empowers it.
Driving by some of Ottawa’s foreign embassies, I was struck by the fact that, like Christians everywhere, I have dual citizenship. My U.S. citizenship is defined by my American passport and birth certificate. My other citizenship is defined by faith – I am a citizen of the kingdom of God. As an American, I was pleased to see that the American embassy in Ottawa is an impressive and imposing building, as is appropriate for a powerful and influential nation. The kingdom of God is also powerful and influential, but it has no official embassy in Ottawa, nor in any other world capital. The kingdom of God is a different kind of nation.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus was brought to trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate represented the authority of the Roman Empire. He had been told Jesus was a security threat. His accusers said that he claimed to be a King.
“Are you a King?” he asked (John 18:33).
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world,” thereby assuring the Roman governor that his kingdom posed no military or political threat. “If my kingdom were of this world,” Jesus added, “then would my servants fight.”
This was a kingdom like no other. Jesus held no territory. He had no grand capital city. He commanded no army or police force, and had no political platform. His kingdom would make its presence known in a very different way.
He told his disciples, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another” (John 13:35). This is a kingdom that rests on the
foundation of the One who transforms minds and hearts, It does not need standing armies and imposing, palatial
compounds to carry out its work. It’s work is carried out invisibly, by the
Holy Spirit, and its embassies are established anywhere and everywhere two or three
are gathered in the name of Jesus Christ.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of Life.