Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Church and State

The temptation to advance the kingdom of God by means of governmental clout is powerful but deadly. It has been attempted by the people of God at various times throughout history with disastrous results for the church.
One writer describes the problem this way: “Whenever Christians have gotten what so many American evangelicals today are trying to get—namely, the power to enforce their righteous will on others—it eventually harms the church as well as the culture. The lesson of history, a lesson the Devil has known all along, is this: The best way to defeat the kingdom of God is to empower the church to rule the kingdom of the world—for then it becomes the kingdom of the world! The best way to get people to lay down the cross is to hand them the sword! The kingdom of God is not about coercive “power over,” but influential “power under.” Its essence is found in the power to transform lives from the inside out through love and service. When kingdom-of-God citizens aspire to acquire Caesar’s authority to accomplish “the good,” we sell our kingdom birthright for a bowl of worldly porridge (Gen 25). To the extent that we pick up the sword, we put down the cross. When our goal as kingdom people becomes centered on effectively running a better version of the kingdom of the world, we compromise our calling to be faithful to the kingdom of God” (Greg Boyd, “The Problem With Mixing Church & Government,” renew.org).
When will we learn?  We won’t change our nation or culture by having the power to force kingdom principles upon others.  As Jesus reminded his followers: “...all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Hearts cannot be truly changed at the point of a sword or by the stroke of a legislative pen.  Jesus’ kingdom, which is not of this world (John 18:36), should not be advanced by the ways of this world.  Church and state make a dangerous mix and the church always loses.

God loves you!