I recently visited Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. I am always impressed
by a national capital.
A capital is where a nation makes
a special effort to put its best foot forward. The imposing buildings on
Parliament Hill symbolize Canada’s history and its traditions of democracy. On
display there are Canada’s national treasures, along with statues and portraits
of the men and women whose vision and courage helped make Canada what it is
As the capital city of Canada,
Ottawa plays host to the embassies of many nations. The embassy compounds of
Canada’s major allies and trading partners are striking facilities. Some have
been specially constructed to reflect the architecture and traditions of the embassy’s
homeland. Others are splendid old mansions that have been converted for
Even poor, struggling nations find
a way to have impressive embassies. An embassy is an outpost of the home
country, and it is expected to make a positive impression, regardless of
conditions at home.
The kingdom of God, by
contrast, does not have impressive embassy compounds in the world’s capital
cities. In this world, the kingdom of God is an invisible kingdom – invisible like
the Holy Spirit who empowers it.
Driving by some of Ottawa’s
foreign embassies, I was struck by the fact that, like Christians everywhere, I
have dual citizenship. My U.S. citizenship is defined by my American passport
and birth certificate. My other citizenship is defined by faith – I am a
citizen of the kingdom of God. As an American, I was pleased to see that the
American embassy in Ottawa is an impressive and imposing building, as is appropriate
for a powerful and influential nation. The kingdom of God is also powerful and
influential, but it has no official embassy in Ottawa, nor in any other world
capital. The kingdom of God is a different kind of nation.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus
was brought to trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate
represented the authority of the Roman Empire. He had been told Jesus was a
security threat. His accusers said that he claimed to be a King.
“Are you a King?” he asked
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is
not of this world,” thereby assuring the Roman governor that his kingdom posed
no military or political threat. “If my kingdom were of this world,” Jesus
added, “then would my servants fight.”
This was a kingdom like no
other. Jesus held no territory. He had no grand capital city. He commanded no
army or police force, and had no political platform. His kingdom would make its
presence known in a very different way.
He told his disciples, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another” (John 13:35). This is a kingdom that rests on the
foundation of the One who transforms minds and hearts, It does not need standing armies and imposing, palatial
compounds to carry out its work. It’s work is carried out invisibly, by the
Holy Spirit, and its embassies are established anywhere and everywhere two or three
are gathered in the name of Jesus Christ.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of Life.