The governor sighs. It’s been a long night, and he’s not getting anywhere with the enigmatic prisoner standing clear-eyed before him.
He tries out the phrase used by the elders who turned the man over to him for judgment.
“Are you the ‘King of the Jews?’”
“Are you asking this on your own?” the man asks, “Or have others told you about me?”
“I’m not a Jew,” Pilate snorts. “Your own people handed you over to me. What have you done?”
“My kingdom is not of this world,” says the prisoner. “If it were, my servants would fight so I wouldn’t be handed over. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
My kingdom is not of this world.
These words recorded in the Gospel of John, spoken by Jesus in the last hours of His earthly life, are critical to a Christian’s understanding of earthly politics and government as opposed to our heavenly citizenship (Phil. 1:27).
Later, John writes to the church and puts it this way:
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” –1 John 2:15-17
Earthly kingdoms, along with their rulers, military power and laws, come and go. God’s kingdom lasts for eternity.
We may vote a certain way due to our values, but our trust lies in another realm altogether.
What does all this have to do with pregnancy help work? Much indeed.
Picture a typical center offering basic services in their community.
There’s an abortion provider close by, but because of the presence of that pregnancy center, a distressed woman facing an unplanned pregnancy has another alternative.
So she comes in to talk about her troubling circumstances.
“Nora” is surprised to learn she doesn’t need an insurance card, as the services are free. She expects to be treated like another number, but instead, is met with sensitivity and caring attention.
The woman helping her seems to understand how to help her unpack her concerns. Nora is hesitant to share at first, but then realizes she won’t be judged. Her story pours out, and with it, her tears.
She hadn’t planned to say this much, but somehow, she feels safe to unburden her heart at this place. Relieved, even. Finally, someone is really listening instead of pushing her toward a decision.
Fast forward a few months. Nora comes in for life skills classes with her boyfriend, who meets with a male mentor from the center. They’re learning about parenting skills as well as budgeting.
The specter of abortion no longer hangs over Nora’s head. She’s not stressed and anxious anymore. She smiles often and is excited about the upcoming birth of her baby girl.
Everything changed for Nora, starting with that first visit.
But this is more than a nice story about a young woman making a pregnancy decision. It’s s story of two kingdoms.
When Nora walked into that pregnancy help center, she entered another dimension, spiritually speaking.
The center had been bathed in prayer that morning, just like every morning. The people who showed up to help her and her boyfriend were called by God to be there. The folks backing the center financially were led by God to do so.
A pregnancy center is a microcosm of the kingdom of God in a community. It’s a place where earthly powers don’t rule and reign. Instead, King Jesus is in charge.
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Here’s how I put it here:
“When we come to Christ and begin to know Him intimately, he increases our ability to love. We’re more able to care about others. Our default response changes from selfishness to empathy.
We are enlarged.
The Holy Spirit comes to live inside us, and we value what He values, care about what He cares about, feel what He feels. We begin to know in our hearts, not only our heads, that planet Earth isn’t our real home. We live as loyal citizens of another realm.
In that other realm, ending the life of an innocent unborn child is against the law. In that realm, the atmosphere is pure compassion. In that realm, a King rules who will one day make all things new. And in that realm, joy inexpressible and filled with glory permeates the atmosphere…”
My kingdom is not of this world.
Jesus’ kingdom is an “upside down” kingdom.
There, a small lunch can feed five thousand. There, weakness looks like strength, leading looks like stooping low and no one gets to exercise “rights” at the expense of someone else.
In Christ’s kingdom, no one claims their own “truth;” rather, we worship the Truth, who is Jesus. Where He rules, love rules. Tears are no more. And the lion will lay down with the lamb.
As we do the great work of protecting human life while living in the tension of the already/not yet, our privilege and responsibility is to help God’s kingdom come to earth.
The kingdom where we love our enemies instead of seeking vengeance. The kingdom where miracles are normal.
The kingdom of life, not death disguised as a “right;” of truth, not deceptive rhetoric and rationalization; of real compassion, not manipulation.
One day, heaven will resound with voices proclaiming,
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
Until that day, keep bringing the kingdom to earth. The Nora’s of your community need you.