By Billy Graham | Published: January 18, 2017
Various Presidents have had slogans to dramatize their philosophy of government. Franklin Roosevelt had the New Deal, President Truman had the Fair Deal, President Kennedy had the New Frontier, President Johnson had the Great Society.
Jesus Christ also had slogans. For example, He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). This was one of the many slogans that he used to announce His “great society,” which is the Kingdom Society.
Rome, when Jesus lived on earth, was a prosperous, growing empire. It possessed a military, artistic and ethical superiority over other nations and was equipped intellectually and militarily to hold the place as the world’s No. 1 power. But Jesus saw the whole structure of the Roman Empire as something fleeting and temporary.
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He looked at the great buildings in Jerusalem and said, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:2). He talked of the world He lived in, with its armed might, its great edifices and institutions—the world that the Romans doubtless thought of as the “great society”—as something soon to crumble. He spoke of the seeds of war—hate, lust and greed. He talked of the end of the existing world of that day.
The Roman world did end, the Empire did fall. Caesar’s “great society” disintegrated. But Christ’s Kingdom Society will endure forever. It will endure because the Kingdom Society is not built on a false promise.
How does the Kingdom Society differ from all other societies that men devise today?
First, conversion is a requirement of citizenship. The kingdoms of this world do not require spiritual conversion. Any religion will do; the philosophy of this world is, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” But Jesus Christ said, “Unless you are converted … you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
In the Kingdom Society, people are transformed from the inside out by the power of God. Paul said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Kingdom Society will endure because it is comprised of people who have enduring character. “[God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,” wrote the Apostle Paul to the Colossians (1:13-14).
Fallible humans cannot create an infallible society, but redeemed people can redeem society. You can’t produce a Great Society with those who hate, connive, take advantage, pillage and overrun, with self-interest as their motivation. National greed and selfishness are the corporate expression of self-interest, and Jesus predicted that it would still exist in the last agonizing days of man’s world. He said, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom … and then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another” (Matthew 24:7, 10). This self-interest must be eliminated by the transforming power of Christ if we are to be a part of the Kingdom Society. And Jesus made it an inescapable imperative when He said to Nicodemus, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
Second, the Kingdom Society is built upon love rather than hate. The way of the world is tyranny, war and chaos. But in the Kingdom Society, love is the dominant ethic. It was love that sent Christ to the cross. “The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). It was love that inspired these words of Jesus: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45). He instilled the spirit of Christian love in His followers so that they lived without malice and died without rancor.
The love that Christ talked about can only be given to us by God. It is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). When you come to Jesus Christ and accept Him as your Lord and Savior, He gives you a supernatural love that allows you to love your enemy. This is the answer to the race problem. This is the answer to the many other problems that face the world today. When you come to Jesus Christ, He transforms you. Your past is forgiven. You receive a power to love people, beyond your natural ability to love.
Third, the Kingdom Society is not built on the profit motive. The verb of the world is get. The verb of the Christian is give. Self-interest is basic in the Great Society. Everyone asks, “What’s in it for me?” In a world founded on materialism, this is natural and normal.
But in the Kingdom Society self-interest is not basic; selflessness is. The Founder, Jesus Christ, was rich, and yet He became poor that we “through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). His disciples followed Him, and it was said of them, “Neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own” (Acts 4:32). Peter, rich in heavenly goods but poor in worldly goods, said to the lame man on the Temple steps, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you” (Acts 3:6). The apostles held worldly goods in contempt and cherished the abiding values of the Spirit. They lived with eternity in view.
Today in what we call the society of the world we hold spiritual things in contempt and lust after the things of this world. Little wonder that the world is in a state of turmoil! Mammon is worshiped, and God is disdained. Pleasure takes precedence over purity, and gain has priority over God.
But in the Kingdom Society, the one who is greatest is the servant of all (see Mark 10:44). Service to God and mankind are put above self-interest. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Fourth, the form of government in the Kingdom Society is unique. It is not a democracy where the people govern, but a Christocracy where Christ is the supreme Authority. In a government of unredeemed people, democracy is the only fair and equitable system. But no democracy can ever be better than the people who make it up. When people are selfishly motivated, the government will be inequitable. When people are dishonest, the government will be rigged and contrived. When everyone wants his or her own way, someone is going to get hurt.
But in the Kingdom Society, Christ is King. He is compassionate, fair, merciful and just. When He is sovereign in people’s hearts, anguish turns to peace, hatred is transformed into love, and misunderstanding is turned into understanding.
Fifth, the Kingdom Society is lasting. The history of man has been a continuous series of half successes and total failures. Prosperity exists for a time, only to be followed by war and depression. Civilizations have come and gone, and mankind still battles with the same problems over and over and over again.
But the Kingdom Society will abide forever. The fluctuations of time, the swinging of the pendulum from war to peace, from starvation to plenty, from chaos to order, will end forever. The Bible says, “And of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:33). Christ’s subjects will be transformed into His image, and they shall be like Him. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
How do you get into the Kingdom Society? Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). “Not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). And, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
Christ is saying to those who are on the outside, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). His hand, His heart, is extended to all who will repent of their sins and accept Him as Savior.
“What if I don’t?” you ask. The alternatives are fearful. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt,” said Daniel (12:2).
Great societies have come and gone. That is what is wrong with them—they are transient. But you may be a member of the Kingdom Society—the Kingdom of the redeemed. God is our Father; Jesus Christ is our Brother; the Holy Spirit is our abiding, guiding Comforter and Teacher. Today you may join the aristocracy of Heaven. You may become a legal heir through Jesus Christ. And I bear this news to you upon the authority and under the seal of the King Himself!
Receive Christ as your Savior. Be converted today and join the Kingdom Society. March under the flag of Jesus Christ. Sing His song. Commit your life to Him, and find fulfillment in Jesus Christ. ©1965 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.