God’s Kingdom and the U.S.A–separating the transparencies
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that culturally and politically, the U.S.A. is in the midst of radical change. And as with all change, a segment of people rejoice at what’s “finally” happening while others are absolutely disgusted with the way things are “these days”.
And although there is a huge division among those who are viewing the changes, there is unity regarding the fact that fundamental change IS taking place.
Below is an illustration that I believe is one of way of describing what’s happening. In my next post, I’ll share what I believe is the proper way for followers of Jesus to view these changes and how best to respond.
Not too long ago, businesses, churches, and many other types of organizations used what seems like an ancient form of visual media to communicate in a group setting. That visual media tool was called an overhead projector. It was a revolutionary invention which is actually still in use in many parts of the world.
The actual information that this wonder of modern technology projected on to a screen or a blank wall had to be placed on a transparent sheet of glass or a sheet of plastic-type material. (When I first began attending an evangelical church back in 1981, the words to the worship songs were either typed or hand-written on these sheets of plastic that many of us referred as “overheads” or “transparencies”).
One of the coolest aspects of the era of transparencies was that you could have information on one transparency, lay it on the projector and project it up on the screen, and then lay another transparency with more or different information on top of it so that it looked like there was just one transparency that was being shown on the screen. In other words, two separate transparencies with different information on each could be layered together in such a way that the audience would conclude that what were they were viewing actually came from one source.
Now…please keep the layering capability of transparencies in your mind and the reality that transparencies can present what are separate sets of facts in a way that gives the appearance of absolute unity.
Shifting gears, I’d like you to also begin thinking about the documents that form the foundation of the United States of America. Specifically, think about the Declaration of Independence and the constitution, especially the first 10 amendments that we refer to as the Bill of Rights.
We know for a fact that many of the founding fathers were real followers of Jesus and absolutely believed that the bible was God’s word and that it contained truths and principles that if relied upon and put into practice, would benefit all of mankind. We also know that although some of the founders were not followers of Jesus and therefore wouldn’t agree that the bible was fully inspired, they did recognize that the “worldview” derived from the bible and the truths and principles contained within the bible were probably the best foundation for a truly representative type government to be formed upon.
Now imagine that overhead projectors and transparencies existed when the founding fathers were wrestling with constructing the framework that our government was built upon.
On one transparency, they might have listed the truths and principles that govern the Kingdom of God that are contained in the bible. This list would have contained certain words and phrases that were taken directly from the scripture, maybe even including the specific biblical references they were drawn from.
When the list was finished it would have been clear to everyone present that what was described on the transparency was actually an attempt at giving expression to the Kingdom of God as depicted in the bible. But, they also would have recognized that only those who truly know, love, and serve the King of Kings, whose Kingdom is not of this world, would truly desire and attempt to live as described.
Since that would have been the case, then clearly, what that transparency describes would not be respected or followed by those who haven’t already surrendered to the King of Kings. At the same time, they also would have recognized that many of the principles and truths were capable of standing alone. In other words, they would have understood that these principles and truths are also a description of what basic goodness is and therefore are universally true. In a sense, they are “generic” principles and truths that anyone from almost any back round could easily embrace.
At that point, they may have grabbed another transparency and then created a new list of selected portions from the first transparency. But on this one, none of the principles or truths summarized were written in a way that clearly shows their origin is actually found in the bible.
This second transparency was then fine-tuned, agreed upon by all, and the foundational document the country was built upon was projected for all to see, marvel at, and implement.
But here’s what happened:
1. Those that love the King of Kings and live in His Kingdom recognize that the the principles and truths written on the transparency that the U.S. government is built upon have a biblical foundation even though the documents themselves don’t indicate that.
2. So these people pick up the first transparency, the one that contains principles and truths from the Kingdom of God, the one that wasn’t really useable to base an earthly government on, and they lay this transparency on the one that the founding fathers created for the formation of this government.
3. Because the information in both is so similar, so seemingly compatible, so apparently non-contradictory, they began believing, thinking, and acting as if what is written on the two transparencies actually describes the same entity. In other words, in their minds, based on what they see projected on the wall, the Kingdom of God and the United States of America….are one and the same!!!
4. And eventually they come to believe and act as if the Kingdom of God is somehow dependent upon or helplessly influenced by the things that are taking place within the U.S.A. That because the two are one and the same, if the U.S.A. collapses culturally or economically, the Kingdom of God will struggle and potentially even cease to exist if the U.S.A. ultimately ceases to exist.
Keeping the layered transparency illustration in mind, it is my conviction that God is permitting things to unfold in such a way as to make clear to His people and to everyone else, that His Kingdom and the U.S.A. are not the same thing.
And that He has decided that His people that live in this country have lived long enough under a deception that has actually crippled them and left them incapable of caring about and actively participating in what He is really doing in this world.
Since so many of His people seem incapable or unwilling to distinguish between the two transparencies that they have chosen to project and view as one, He has chosen to begin the incredibly painful but completely necessary process of forcing the transparencies to be separated.
I’m convinced that this separation of the transparencies is going to continue at an even faster pace….for everyone’s good and God’s glory.
Good illustration. Spiritually and morally, I am discouraged about the trajectory of America. Eschatologically, I am encouraged to see the shape and contours of Biblical prophecy coming into clearer focus.
Are there really pastors who believe that the KOG and America are synonymous?
Thanks. I personally know a few that used to wholeheartedly believe that and have been forced to change their view based on what’s happening. And although it isn’t generally articulated, I believe there are literally thousands of people who without thinking about it actually navigate day to day with that mindset. Sad, but true.
Man, spot on Jeff. God’s been keeping you around all these years to continue mulling on, boiling down and even more clearly articulating the reality of what you are seeing, and what we are all experiencing, Jeff.
Love it, man. Look forward to more time being able to be spent “mulling”: these things over with you. Let me know if you need help when you move in.
Great seeing you and Helen from afar last week at crossconnection 🙂
Thanks Josh…encouraging as always brother. Looking forward to connecting with you guys. Love to have the help with unloading. I’ll get a hold of you later this week.
Thank you for that insightful article Jeff.
I have arrived at many of those same conclusions over the last twenty years, but the “transparencies” illustration really does bring it into sharp relief. Like you, I believe the separation of transparencies has already begun and will continue to accelerate as the Lord calls those who truly belong to Him to stand apart as salt and light. The sad flip side of this is that as a pastor it’s hard to see the “churched” fall farther and farther away despite there being no shortage of God’s Word and the encouragement of the body of Christ. It breaks my heart.
Thank you again for such a good reminder and a wonderful illustration. I may need to “borrow” that illustration some day. 🙂