Not of this world – Lessons from John 18:36

CrownLately I’ve been thinking about how the church should interact with the surrounding culture. In my country, society is moving rapidly away from the Judeo/Christian moral framework. Seemingly, every point of view is tolerated with the exception of an overtly Christian one.

In response to this, it is not difficult to find “culture wars” rhetoric that seeks to drive me to political action. The rhetoric plays to my fears of a culture that is alien or even hostile to the standards that are set by Scripture.

A book that I was reading today made reference to John 18:36 which says:

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (ESV)

It struck me that this statement informs me about how I should respond to those in power that often make decisions with which I do not agree.

Not a political agenda

The Kingdom of God will not be advanced through a political agenda. Jesus’ Kingdom has different rules of engagement than Pilate’s political world.

Not through coercion

Jesus repudiates the use of force for external coercion. Otherwise, Jesus would get his servants to fight.

In addition to Jesus’ Earthly servants, he also has the command of the angels. When you consider that one angel single-handedly took out an army of 185,000 soldiers (2 Kings 19:35), imagine the power of a whole legion of angels.

If Jesus had a political agenda, he certainly had enough resources to implement that agenda.

Bigger than this world

Our focus should not be on reformation of our society. Yes, the church has had an impact on society, but that effect cannot be the church’s primary goal. We are called to make disciples. In the process of making disciples, we trust that God will change people’s hearts and minds so that they want to live according to Scripture.

If there is any change in society, it is a result of God changing the hearts of a sufficient number of people for the societal change to take place.

The church cannot be satisfied with only a temporal change in the surrounding society. We are called to be agents used by God to bring about eternal change. We are called to help people move into a much larger kingdom.


While God does call some to engage in the political process to bring about temporal change (think of William Wilberforce), this cannot be the primary focus of the church. Our allegiance is to a much bigger King and a much bigger kingdom.


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About Mark McIntyre

A follower of Jesus Christ who shares observations about how Scripture should impact the church and the world. Mark is the original author and editor of Attempts at Honesty.

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2 Comments on "Not of this world – Lessons from John 18:36"

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1 year 1 month ago

You’re so right in that we can change nothing through politics and government. And as the previous comment stated, we are not battling against flesh and blood. We need to do our best to witness and improve our sphere of influence. Only God can open ones eyes and change a heart. We just have to be willing to be His agent when opportunity shows itself. Great points.

Pat Campo - Pilgrims Progress Today
Many American Christians are so wrapped up in our nation’s problems and so unhappy at living in a social environment that is so repulsive to them that they forget: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12). They have fallen into Satan’s trap by fighting the battle on his terms. They are struggling to win political and social battle in a world with only temporary victories rather than trying to lead the… Read more »