What exactly does that mean? Well in my studies the word repent means that we are to turn from something, but not just a negative turning away, a turning from one thing to another. In this case the assumption is, turn from the kingdoms you are currently in, to the kingdom of God. Now let us remember this was spoken of in a time of kings, and empires. So this message really packed a punch. But we can over spiritualize this and say that it only applies to our own rulership. I need to give up my own rulership and accept God's rulership. Now this is truly what this verse means! But it means more than that!!! It means turn from any and all kingdoms and accept God alone as the ruler. This means the kingdoms of the world, the kingdoms of the political powers, the kingdom of the economy the kingdoms of culture. We must turn from them all and receive the rulership of God, and infact bring that into this earth. This is what we pray when we say, "thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.
Now my contention is that somewhere along the line, we have rejected this command. We have not only rejected God as our ruler, but have set up another kingdom. The kingdoms of the church. We have found being ruled, and trusting the rule of the creator of the universe a daunting, and to be honest frightening task, so we have created a kingdom in His name, to help us feel more secure.
Now this is a very harsh thing to say, but lets take a closer look:
What do kingdoms do?
They create structures to protect, educate and control the people. In some cases they have a document, that has been ratified and accepted as the proper way to rule and govern, and call these constitutions, that provide a way to keep even the leaders in line. And they have special people that study these constitutions and make sure they are never broken. They have special people that are "qualified" to carry out the rule of the kingdom. They are often very capable, and qualified men, often very charismatic. They in some cases are elected, in other cases appointed, and in some cases inherit positions. And special people that enforce their rule. And they call these people public "servants". They create borders, if you are inside this border you are part of the kingdom, if you are outside you are not. They create armies of people to protect these borders, and to expel those that do not follow the dictates of the rulers. They have people that create propaganda to further the agenda of the kingdom, and they have others that are enlisted to battle against the "enemies" of the kingdom. They provide services for the people in the kingdom, they prepare roads, provide for the needy, educate those in the kingdom. And ofcourse all of the services and servants cost money so they charge a tax, a percentage of your income, in order to pay for all of these good things. They sing special songs and anthems about the kingdom. They have special days to celebrate the important days and people of the kingdom. They have special books, pledges, and covenents. I am sure this is sounding familiar. We have created new kingdoms, and these try to be the kingdom of God, but they are not.
Now I have been told I am advocating lawlessness. But I am not, I am advocating responsibility, and community, and the rulership of God. But who is to control things and keep them from getting out of line? Well seeing that a church able to even have people put to death wasn't able to curtail desent, I will just trust God to deal with it. What I am advocating for the people of God to return to the grass roots, diverse movement of our history. To relational authority. To an upside down kingdom that gives up power rather than protects it. That opens its borders rather than protects them. That actually requires of people that they leave the kingdoms of this world, and gives them no new kingdom in return, but allows God's rulership to take place.
Turn from the false kingdoms, and accept the only true king, Jesus the Christ.