I take it that when Jesus comes to fulfill the Old Covenant, and to bring in the New Covenant, he constitues a new Israel. And a new way of being Israel. It is theocratic, in that God in Christ is Lord over it. But not in the same way Israel of old was. Not as another nation state in the world. But rather, as a holy nation, scattered throughout all nations and the entire earth. Made up of entities called church. And together constituting one church.
Therefore I take Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), not only for his followers in their individual lives. But also for the entire community of God. How they are to live out what they are, as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
We find those blessed, who are persecuted for righteousness, and because of their faith in Christ. Who endure it. We find those blessed who are peacemakers, being called God's children.
We're called to accept being struck. And to love our enemies, no less. To pray for those who persecute us. To be, in this grace and kindness, like our heavenly Father.
In Luke 6, the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus gives us more of this teaching.
Later, when confronted by Pilate about being a king, Jesus makes it clear that his kingdom is not from this world. And therefore his servants will not fight for his release. I take this to mean that while we are citizens on earth, we live as citizens of heaven. And refuse to fight because we're part of a new kingdom that is not a part of this present world system. But is invading it to bring in, no less than the revolution of the kingdom of God come, in Christ. And with that the beginning of the new creation. Which in the end, after judgement, is to make all things new.
We in Jesus must be countercultural in many ways. We're not to live as this world does. This may seem problematical. Is war and killing intrinsically evil? After all, there were certainly physical battles sanctioned by God in the Old Testament. But we see that even David, the man after God's own heart, was not allowed to build the temple, since he had fought in so much warfare. War may not be intrinsically wrong in itself, though no war fought here and now is without wrong being done on both sides.
But Jesus brings in, understand it all or not (and we don't) a new way to be Israel. That will not render to Caesar what does not belong to him. Since their identity is those whose Lord is Jesus. Not any Caesar. Because of that, I take it, they will not go into battles for nations. Because as the one holy nation, scattered throughout the world, their ethic is redemptive, in Christ. They are part of the mission to bring God's salvation and reconciliation, through the good news of his kingdom, in Christ, to all.
Next week we'll resume working on this. In the meantime, what problems do you have with my thought so far? Or what would you like to add?