Tolstoy on Jesus versus Christianity
Tolstoy highlighted like Bonhoeffer the gap between Christianity as practiced and Christ's words as preached.
Another reason [Christ's doctrine is not understood] is the mistaken notion that it is impracticable, and ought to be replaced by the doctrine of love for humanity. But the principal reason, which is the source of all the other mistaken ideas about it, is the notion that Christianity is a doctrine which can be accepted or rejected without any change of life.
Men who are used to the existing order of things, who like it and dread its being changed, try to take the doctrine as a collection of revelations and rules which one can accept without their modifying one's life. While Christ's teaching is not only a doctrine which gives rules which a man must follow, it unfolds a new meaning in life, and defines a whole world of human activity quite different from all that has preceded it and appropriate to the period on which man is entering. (Leo Tolstoy, The kingdom of God is within you (Casell, 1894) at 110.)
However, Tolstoy developed in 1894 a reading of Jesus that saw political and social implications of Jesus' doctrines:
We think to-day that the requirements of the Christian doctrine—of universal brotherhood, suppression of national distinctions, abolition of private property, and the strange injunction of non-resistance to evil by force—demand what is impossible. But it was just the same thousands of years ago, with every social or even family duty, such as the duty of parents to support their children, of the young to maintain the old, of fidelity in marriage. Id., at 112.
Technically, Jesus said His kingdom was not a political one, but instead is "within you" - in your spirit. Thus, we cannot jump to a conclusion that Tolstoy meant to endorse violent revolution / political action. Tolstoy's life was one of example -- as he shed his riches and gave them to the poor -- to the dismay of his wife.
What Tolstoy intended to spread was that if we had a moral change in our hearts relying upon Jesus, and this spiritual kingdom was found among the followers of Jesus, then the world might follow our example. But it would be a misreading of Tolstoy or Jesus to suggest Jesus believes we need to reform the state to adopt principles that would promote universal brotherhood, end of nation-states, abolishing private property, and not resisting evil by force. Rather, we need to reform ourselves and this might lead the world to seek after the moral high ground of a brotherhood of man rather than war, killing and greed.