25 Nov. John 18:33-37 Living in Competing Kingdoms
I would like to suggest that when Pilate hears Jesus say, "My kingdom is not of this world" and then sends Jesus to be crucified as guilty of treason against the Roman Empire, it is not because he fails to understand Jesus: it is because he does understand Jesus. The world of empire is the world of achievement, position, power, influence, domination, access to resources. The truth to which Jesus testifies is the servant world of mercy, love, peace and justice of God. I believe that Pilate clearly saw the impossible tension between these two kingdoms and simply took care of eliminating (or so he thought) one of them.
It falls to us to live and make decisions in the reality of those competing kingdoms. The world order of empire works out very well, at least superficially, for many of us. By virtue of my skin color, the country of my birth, and my education (to which my skin color and the country of my birth helped provide access), I have a great deal of power in the world as it is. On the other hand, my heart aches for those whom the world of empire leaves without a chance – those without clean water, good food, medical care, basic shelter, primary education. In addition, there is increasing evidence that my comfortable world of empire is not sustainable – our fossil fuels are almost depleted, and climate change is devastating some parts of the earth and destroying others. There is increasing evidence that our children are inheriting our anxieties that unless we work harder and longer and are very lucky besides, the hyper-competitive and never-ending quest for achievement that's a part of the world of empire will leave us without resources and without community in a hostile environment. *How do we live in the reality of these competing kingdoms and still make clear choices for mercy, love, peace and justice?*