Jesus is Not the Secretary of Afterlife Affairs

A few weeks ago, I attended a conference about anabaptism and church mission. This is third installment in blog posts responding to the main presenters. Today, I’m responding to Brian Zahnd. Brian is the pastor of the Word of Life Church in Missouri. He is also a speaker and the author of “A Farewell to Mars.”

One of Brian’s favorite ways to talk about Jesus is to say, “Jesus is not the Secretary of Afterlife Affairs.” By this, he means “Jesus is our Lord, now, on Earth.”

Not, Jesus will be our Lord when we go to heaven.
Not, Jesus’ is in charge, but his jurisdiction is heaven.
Not, Jesus is Vice-Lord.
Not, Jesus is Lord-elect.
Not, Jesus is my ticket for getting into heaven.

But, Jesus is Lord, right here, right now.
His Kingdom is on Earth.
Which means I’m in his Kingdom.
So I should live like I’m part of his kingdom.

Most Christians don’t bat an eye at the concept of “Jesus is Lord.” It’s standard terminology in the Christian Church. So much so that we’ve become very desensitized to its implications.

Imagine that you are a member of the very early church. This means that you live in the Roman Empire. In the Roman Empire, there was only one lord. The Caesar. The Emperor. No Lord but Caesar. So to say “Jesus is Lord.” Was to commit treason.

To say “Jesus is Lord” was to say “Caesar is not.”

No wonder so many early Christians were killed. And no wonder Jesus was crucified, a form of execution reserved for acts of political sedition.

We don’t have that vocabulary anymore, and we don’t live in that political reality anymore, so we have lost the radical implications of saying that Jesus is Lord.

It is our job as Dunker Punks to acknowledge and reclaim the radical implications. Being a Dunker Punk is to be countercultural. Being a Dunker Punk is to be nonconformist. Being a Dunker Punk is to be a radical follower of Jesus.

Here’s the problem:

The Church in the United States is very nationalistic. We love to call the United States a “Christian nation.” This is dangerous because it gives the United States the appearance of wielding the power and authority of Christ, while relegating the actual Jesus to the sidelines.

One of my favorite quotes is by the author, theologian, and activist Jim Wallis: “Mixing the Church with politics is like mixing ice cream with manure. It doesn’t do much to the manure, but it really messes up the ice cream.” Any time the Church becomes part of the power structure, as it has in the United States, it betrays its heritage as a subversive institution that challenges the powerful and stands up for the powerless.

This is the culture that we have to counter. This is what we can’t conform to. Whereas the Church in the United States wants to confine Jesus’ love and power to the borders of the United States, Dunker Punks understand that Jesus loves everybody, and we have to do the same.

The borders of Christ’s kingdom don’t end at the Atlantic or the Pacific or the Rio Grande, so our love can’t either. Christ on the cross reveals a God who would rather die than kill. By following Jesus, “love your neighbor as yourself” and “love your enemies” are the pillars of our foreign policy. And feeding the hungry, healing the sick, clothing the poor, and standing with the imprisoned are the pillars of our domestic policy. And the terms “foreign” and “domestic” are irrelevant because we are all children of God.

Jesus on the cross should prove to us that a different organization of society is possible. Dunker Punks must be leaders in following Jesus. We are living in Christ’s kingdom, and we have to act like it.

That starts with us saying “Jesus is Lord,” and accepting the radical implications.

Emmett Eldred - Hollidaysburg COB, Middle PA District

Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.

Want to contribute? Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and/or email Emmett at


2 thoughts on “Jesus is Not the Secretary of Afterlife Affairs

  1. Helfgott says:

    If Jim Wallis don´t want to mix Church with politics, why him mix Democrat Party politics with Sojourners?.
    We are all children of God?.
    So Hitler and Jack the Ripper are included?.
    That is cheap New Age theology, no Gospel.
    Holy Bible says instead:

    John 1:12The Message (MSG)

    9-13 The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
    He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
    He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
    But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
    He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
    These are the God-begotten,
    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten.
    The Message (MSG)

    Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

    John 8:44The Message (MSG)

    42-47 “If God were your father,” said Jesus, “you would love me, for I came from God and arrived here. I didn’t come on my own. He sent me. Why can’t you understand one word I say? Here’s why: You can’t handle it. You’re from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies. I arrive on the scene, tell you the plain truth, and you refuse to have a thing to do with me. Can any one of you convict me of a single misleading word, a single sinful act? But if I’m telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Anyone on God’s side listens to God’s words. This is why you’re not listening—because you’re not on God’s side.”
    The Message (MSG)

    Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
    John 1:12Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)

    12 But de as many hosos as did accept lambanō him autos, to them autos he gave didōmi the right exousia to become ginomai children teknon of God theos, to those ho who believe pisteuō in eis · ho his autos name onoma,
    Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)

    The Mounce Reverse-Interlinear™ New Testament (MOUNCE) Copyright © 2011 by Robert H. Mounce and William D. Mounce. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
    “Reverse-Interlinear” is a trademark of William D. Mounce.

    John 8:44Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)

    44 You hymeis belong eimi to ek your ho father patēr the ho devil diabolos, and kai your will is thelō to carry out poieō the ho desires epithumia of ho your hymeis father patēr. He ekeinos was eimi a murderer anthrōpoktonos from apo the beginning archē and kai never ou did stand stēkō in en the ho truth alētheia, because hoti there is eimi no ou truth alētheia in en him autos. When hotan he lies laleō, · ho he is giving expression laleō to ek · ho his idios own nature, for hoti he is eimi a liar pseustēs and kai the ho father patēr of lies autos.
    Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)

    The Mounce Reverse-Interlinear™ New Testament (MOUNCE) Copyright © 2011 by Robert H. Mounce and William D. Mounce. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
    “Reverse-Interlinear” is a trademark of William D. Mounce.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s