Don Allsman, CEO
“If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:48)
This year I learned more about Jesus by noticing how different His objective was compared to what was most important to the powerful people of His day.
In the middle of a global pandemic, a divisive election, and the revelation of latent bigotry that generated unprecedented disequilibrium in my lifetime, I found myself staggering back to the wellspring of Truth. In the teachings of Jesus and the reflections of Spirit-led followers through the ages, I got the palate-cleanser I needed to eliminate the bitter taste of social media and general discourse.
As the fog began to clear, I saw how Jesus’ objective was in stark conflict with those who wanted to preserve or expand their nation, their way of life (Jn. 11:48). And although the influencers shared a common nationalistic goal, they debated the best way to achieve it, whether by retreating (Essenes), confronting (Zealots), accommodating (Sadducees), or practicing personal holiness (Pharisees). Even His followers revealed their fixation with this provincial nationalism by asking the resurrected Jesus: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts. 1:6).
But Jesus had a different agenda. Provincial nationalism was too small an enterprise for Him. His aim was to assemble a worldwide Kingdom of rag-tag people, the poor and oppressed, the powerless and humble. With that objective in mind, He seemed indifferent to the existential threat of the Romans. In fact, Jesus was not interested in creating a following that would threaten Roman authority. Instead, His strategy was to allow Rome to do its worst to Him. Through His suffering, death and resurrection, He ascended, sent the Spirit, and formed a global Kingdom that not only eclipsed Jewish provincial nationalism, but outlived the Roman empire itself. And now His Kingdom extends to the ends of the earth (Acts. 1:8).
As I saw Jesus’ objective in a fresh way, I felt energized to pursue life as He modeled it: a single-minded focus on the Father’s work, a tender concern for the marginalized, a habit of forgiveness and love, and a deep satisfaction in God regardless of the circumstances. Seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness freed me from the pressure to take sides on every provincial issue in our culture.
When people tried to get Jesus to turn His attention to their provincial concerns, He stayed focused on the Father’s cosmic purposes and re-directed their attention to what is important. I am learning to do the same.