What’s unique about the Messiah’s kingdom is that it’s a kingdom of conscience, as opposed to a kingdom of rules.
A rules kingdom demands obedience, you please the king by strict adherence.
A conscience kingdom is of the heart, you please the king by living for his glory.
Jesus invited people to wear his yoke, for his yoke was easy, light, and would give them peace. Heavy, hard and conflicted were the yokes of the other Rabbi’s.
Did that imply he didn’t care about obedience?
Jesus said that if we loved him we would keep his commandments. His commandment was to love each other as he loved us.
When pressed to prioritize the Torah, Jesus said that loving God was first and loving one’s neighbor was second. Jesus wasn’t soft on obedience, he just wanted obedience to come from the heart.
Doesn’t righteousness imply obedience? When Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more, he wasn’t making a suggestion. Preferring not to stone her for breaking the rules, he instead appealed to her conscience. “Choose God,” he might have said, “honor God with your life.”
Jesus didn’t walk around with a rule-following ruler. He didn’t write a ledger of wrongs. He didn’t keep stats on our win/loss obedience record.
His wanted his followers to honor him by their righteous living, because they wanted too, because they chose too.
Making It Real
Many attacked him for his kingdom of conscience, for not adhering to rabbinc tradition. They took him to task over their rules.
His rule-keeping attackers didn’t examine their own hearts for sin. The arrogant, accusing asailants were never wrong, just ask them. They wouldn’t hold themselves to a righteous standard, only a self-righteous one. They wouldn’t hold themselves to a higher standard, they just held others to one.
It’s sad how religious people will huddle up to determine the wrongs of others. It’s disappointing how they craft their criticisms and then expect an accounting from the criticized.
Some Modern Examples:
- “You don’t do things the way we like, so we don’t trust you.”
- “You did something offensive so we are entitled to our anger.”
- “You didn’t support our position, so we aren’t supportive of you.”
Crossing The Finish Line
Please don’t be like the critical, hypocritical rule followers. Please don’t empower yourselves with sinful behaviors because someone did something sinful to you. Live humbly. Practice mercy. Seek peace. Offer the benefit of the doubt. Try to trust.
If you believe in Jesus Christ, then you are a citizen in the kingdom of light, a kingdom of conscience. Try to honor your King by living for his glory, with all of your heart.
Raise the bar.