by Understand the Times with Roger Oakland
Most people with any common sense and compassion want to see a planet without poverty, disease, and illiteracy. I thank God for all the organizations working to help the suffering, the sick, and the poor. Jesus made it very clear that we are to care for and reach out to those in need. However, working to bring about utopia on earth through global and religious unity is futile. My saying this might make some people angry, and they may accuse me of being fatalistic. But nowhere in Scripture is the notion supported that there will be a kingdom without tears, pain, poverty, and suffering until Jesus Christ physically returns and establishes it Himself.
A question needs to be considered: Can those who don’t know the King establish the kingdom of God?
Rick Warren believes that God has shown him not only the boundaries (or lack of them) of this coming global kingdom, but also the strategy to bring it about. Before Warren came up with the plan, he says he asked Jesus to show him how to reach the world. He explains:
Then I said, “How did You do it? You wouldn’t have left us without a strategy.” And I found the answer in a passage in Matthew 10 and Luke 10 where Jesus sends His first followers out… He says, “When you go into a village, you find the man of peace.” Find the man of peace. There’s a man of peace in every village, in every government, in every business, in every church.1
Warren further inquired of Jesus to find out just who this man of peace is. Here is the answer he got:
And so I said, “What is the man of peace?” He said, “When you find the man of peace, if he’s open and he’s willing to work with you, you bless him and you start your work there. If the guy’s not open to working with you, you dust the dust off your shoes and you go to the next villages, ’cause you can always find someone to work with.” The man of peace is open and influential….
The man of peace does not have to be a Christian believer. Could be Muslim. Could be Jewish. Because, when Jesus said, “Find the man of peace,” there were no Christians yet. Jesus hadn’t died on the cross. There was no resurrection. He’s just saying, go out and find somebody to work with.2
While Warren believes that a conversation with Jesus inspired his plan to establish the kingdom of God on earth, it would be important to check out the words of Jesus written in the Bible. Ironically, Jesus said much the opposite of what Warren is proposing. In view of the fact that Jesus had not died and resurrected yet, Warren suggests that Jesus sent out His disciples proclaiming peace because there was no other message yet to proclaim; but Jesus did send His disciples out with a Gospel of repentance in proclaiming, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7). This is the same Gospel of repentance John the Baptist proclaimed in preparing the way for the Gospel of justification by faith. Jesus did not say they were to look for a “man of peace” in every town. Rather, He said, “whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence” (Matthew 10:11).
Now Jesus did tell His disciples to use the greeting, “Peace be to this house” whenever entering a house, and if a “son of peace” is there, to remain in that house (Luke 10:5-7). However, it is important to realize that the criterion for staying in a house was not the greeting of peace itself but whether those in that house received their message:
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (Matthew 10:14)
In fact, Jesus makes it very clear that the disciples were sent out to proclaim a message many would reject, saying, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). With all diligence, Jesus warns His disciples that they will be hated for preaching the Gospel. Yet Rick Warren has turned these two passages around, suggesting that Jesus sent out His disciples to proclaim peace because at that time they had no other message to proclaim.
Let me speak very boldly here: if we are going to link hands with those who believe in another gospel or no gospel at all for the sake of establishing an earthly, unified kingdom, we will not be building the kingdom of God. (from Faith Undone, chapter 9, “The Kingdom of God on Earth”)
1. Interview by Charlie Rose with Rick Warren (August 17, 2006, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5555324196046364882).