Canadian Mennonite
Volume 12, No. 19
Sept. 29, 2008


The kingdom and this world

Tim Miller Dyck


Tim Miller Dyck

On Oct. 14, Canadians will have the opportunity to choose the Member of Parliament they wish to represent them in Ottawa and, through that, choose a governing party and platform.

As Mennonite Canadians, elections are a time to reflect again on Jesus’ words in Matthew 22 on whether to pay taxes to the government: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Caesar, as emperor of the earthly Roman kingdom of the day, had authority to set laws, distribute public funds and collect taxes. Jesus recognized that authority, but also pointed out its limits.

Later, when Jesus is being interrogated by Pilate, the local Roman governor, he is asked if he really is claiming to be the king of Jews. Again, Jesus separates out the kingdom of this world from God’s kingdom: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18).

Up until about World War II, most North American Mennonites tried to solve this tension by living as separately from the kingdom of this world as they could, in order to be closer to the kingdom of God. This included not voting and not participating in government or the legal system. Some Mennonites still take that approach, and I respect that decision; it makes it easier to be faithful to Scripture in some ways.

But Scripture calls us to be both holy, and salt and light to the world. Jesus prays for his disciples that they not be of the world, but still be sent out into it. Jesus himself follows up his response to Pilate by saying, “In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”

This is a call to speak to those who will soon wield political power over us, to testify to the truth of Jesus’ message and lobby for them to exercise their authority in ways that line up with the priorities of the kingdom of God. While no human hands can ever take over the role of God, Jesus still prayed that God’s kingdom come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If it is not our voices that speak to politics and the political system on God’s desires for this world, who else will?

So I hope in this election season and afterwards, Canadian Mennonites will testify to God’s truth with their political representatives (and some will even be those political representatives). God would have us care for the least among us, share our wealth with others, hold human life sacred, not impose our will on others by killing them, not destroy God’s creation, welcome refugees and more—the Bible is full of instruction in these areas. Two resources specifically created for this election are available from MCC Canada ( and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (

Seeking my successor: If you browse the classified ads section of the magazine, you’ll have noticed an ad for my position. I’m in my fifth year as Editor and Publisher, and have felt for some time that this was about the right length of time to be in this role. I told the board earlier this year and it has now started advertising for my successor. I feel the magazine is doing good work in the church and I’m deeply grateful for the ways so many contribute to, and read, this magazine. You have helped us all serve God and build God’s kingdom.

This isn’t a farewell, as I’ll be here for some months yet to help provide an orderly transition of leadership. (I wasn’t planning on writing something in this space until closer to that date, but felt I should say something here after I started getting many questions by e-mail). Also, if you are interested in the position, or sense God’s nudging in this direction, or if you know someone who should think about it, please listen to that voice and contact Henry Neufeld on the board search committee (see the ad on page 31).

When I myself was shoulder-tapped, I felt it was a personal call from my church to come and serve for this time in this particular way, and I’m glad to have said yes. I know God is working to convict the next person in this role in the same way.

On a personal note, I’m looking for something where I can work with my hands to help people, most likely in the computer field. But there are some great magazine issues I want to help bring about before then, including the one you hold now.

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