Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God–but he told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He is a king. He has a kingdom. But it is not an earthly kingdom. Because of this, it is not established by the means known to the world. It is not established through violence, as he told Pilate: “if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36). It is not established through stirring up of political strife or through marches through the streets, as Matthew 12:19 said of Jesus (quoting Isaiah 42:2), “He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.”
God’s kingdom is not established through the violence of the right wing (most of the theocracies through history) or the left wing (Liberation Theology’s baptized Marxism). It isn’t established through laws based on the Ten Commandments, or on laws based on the social denunciations of the Hebrew prophets.
God’s kingdom is established through the preaching of the Good News. Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20): “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” It is accomplished through the preaching of the forgiveness of sins through his blood, not through the preaching of class warfare or racial strife.
Jesus had no social agenda. He gave advice to no earthly rulers. He instructed his followers on no legislative demands. He did not condemn Roman tyranny. He did not condemn oppression or injustice.
He did preach conversion. He did preach restitution. He did preach compassion. He did preach forgiveness. But all these things flow from the individual heart made new. They cannot be legislated. The New Testament is plain on these things.
Why, then, do so many people, on the left and the right, make Jesus into something he was not?