Piety And Public Life

For much of my early pilgrimage as a Christian, I understood that Christian piety mostly had to do with the interior life of believers preparing for an escape from this sinful world. Of course it also entailed those disciplines that would make them more effective in helping others escape this world with them. But, ever so gradually, I have come to recognize that the vision of the Christian life emerging from the biblical text focuses much more directly on how to live faithfully in the present…

In his book, The Great Awakening (2008), Jim Wallis notes that the most common biblical support for an exclusive focus on internal piety is Jesus’s statement in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The assumption is that this means God is not concerned about this world but rather on interior and other-worldly matters. Wallis suggests that such a conclusion is not warranted. He notes that Jesus’ kingdom is not “of” this world in the sense that it is not “from” this realm. This is corroborated in the final part of the verse which says, “But now my kingdom is from another place.” Perhaps the Phillips translation says it best with “My kingdom is not founded in this world.”