‘Every Nation Fails,’ But Jesus Christ Offers a ‘Better Government’
It’s Christmas time, and there are many things that compete for our attention.
We ponder what gifts to get our loved ones. Or, rather, what gifts our loved ones will get us. We sing Christmas carols and take part in Christmas activities. We spend many hours preparing for social gatherings such as the office work party, the white elephant gift exchange with our friends, or the big Christmas day feast.
For Christians, while all the above apply to us as well, we know the Christmas season is really about Christ. We reflect on His birth, His perfect life, and His gruesome death. We think about what it means that He came to die for our sins. The Christmas service usually reflects on these things, often including an evangelistic message for the people who normally aren’t in the pews (or foldy chairs) on any given Sunday. The Christmas sermon each year often covers the same points about the baby in a manger and how He came for you and me. I mean, it’s expected — even from the once-a-year churchgoers.
But while that sermon is beautiful and needs to be shared, Welton Bonner, assistant pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, offered a different Christmas message this year. The same Lord and the same gospel, but a different approach to the annual seasonal sermon.
“Great nations have a tendency to overestimate their longevity and underestimate their decay. Every nation fails,” he said. In this world, everything is going to crumble — everything but the salvation offered through Christ alone. Because unlike any other kingdom, His is eternal.
In the evangelistic portion of his sermon, Bonner posed the question: “If you’re here and you’re not a follower of Jesus Christ, why are you living for kingdoms that will crumble?” But what struck me about this inquiry is that it applies to believers just as much as unbelievers.
How often do we as professing believers prioritize the things of this world above our Lord and Savior? We get distracted so easily by busy schedules and worldly troubles. Anxiety, worry, and doubt creep into our minds until they eventually claim all our attention. We may believe in Jesus, and we may truly love Him, but that doesn’t make us immune to misplacing our affections or even living our lives in a way that don’t demonstrate Christ as the center.
In fact, far too easily, we live for work, friends, family, and all kinds of earthly ambitions. But to live for anything or anyone other than Christ is no different than living for any crumbling kingdom. But rather than just saying that and moving on, Bonner dissects four reasons why Christ offers a “better government.” In his mind, Christ’s kingdom is the only kingdom worth serving, and here’s why:
1. “Better King”
Isaiah 9:6 states, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The government, in this case being the kingdom of heaven, is run by King Jesus, and He is described here, in Isaiah 9.
Bonner expounds upon each title. “Wonderful counselor … means that when He gives counsel, His intervention is miraculous.” He continued, “Mighty God … means that He will be limitless in power. He will be omnipotent because He will be God. Everlasting Father … [means] He is the source of all eternal life.” And finally, “Prince of Peace [means] He is the King who will reign in shalom, that is, integral wholeness.” Ultimately, as Bonner put it, Jesus is a “better King … because He is God.”
And because He is God, it makes it even more amazing that He would willingly step down from His throne and strip Himself of His glory to save us. “How many kings would leave glory to step down to earth?” Bonner asked. I only know of one: Jesus.
2. “Better Peace”
The government of Jesus offers a “better peace.” Bonner emphasized that “we’ve been created for” His world of perfect peace. In this life, we experience the fallen nature of this world daily. Disappointments, violence, temptations, anxiety, addictions, and all kinds of brokenness plague the world around us. We long for peace. “And it’s only through this Prince of Peace that we can have peace with God and with one another,” Bonner added.
Through Jesus Christ, we can experience peace even amid the chaos of this world. And yet, an even better peace is coming. As Bonner put it, “When Jesus Christ brings His kingdom to earth, He will reign from Zion and He will extinguish all calamity, all war, and all who trust in Him will get to reign with Him.” The day is coming when, for those who are of faith, we will be with our Savior face to face. In the new heaven and earth, death, pain, and sin will be no more. We will have everlasting peace in the perfect world of peace amid the Source of peace.
3. “Better Justice”
Isaiah 9:7 says the throne of Jesus will be upheld “with justice and with righteousness.” Bonner stated, “Jesus’s throne will hold all wrongdoers accountable. Every wicked deed will [be] punished. Every innocent bloodshed will be rectified. Jesus will correct all the wrongs of this earth.” And as he noted, this is very good news for those who are in Christ.
However, for those who are not in Christ, Bonner said, “You will have to stand before a holy God and give an account for breaking His law.” Although, while God is perfectly just, He is also merciful. Part of Jesus’s better justice is that He mercifully provided a way of escape from God’s judgement toward sin through His death and resurrection. Giving your life to Christ, Bonner emphasized, means that “when you stand before God, the King of kings, Lord of lords, the Judge of all judges will declare you not guilty.” So, whether in judgement or mercy, this is perfect and better justice. What a marvelous truth!
4. “Better Certainty”
Finally, the government run by a better King with better peace and justice is the only government that offers better certainty. “God is vehemently passionate about his Son getting the glory and honor in a kingdom of people redeemed for Himself,” Bonner stated. “Anything that God is passionate about, though, it’s going to get done.”
Under these pretenses, all believers can have utter confidence that the kingdom of God will come to completion. The Father did not send His Son down to earth to suffer for nothing. Just before Jesus died on the cross, He proclaimed, “It is finished,” securing victory for all who put their faith in Him now and forevermore.
This Christmas, alongside reflecting on the birth of Christ, Bonner wants us to reflect on the victory Christ has secured, and what that means in light of eternity. He wants us to consider this question, “Why settle for kingdoms that are fading when you can have a kingdom that will never end in Christ Jesus?” For the unbeliever, it’s not too late to become a citizen of this better government ruled by King Jesus. As Bonner said, “[I]t offers real life. It offers real citizenship of a real kingdom.”
And for the believer, never forget that this is the kingdom you’re a part of. You serve a better King, who offers better peace, better justice, and better certainty. Truly, nothing compares, and “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Psalm 24:10).
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.