Christian Engagement of the World – Dynamic Differentiation

Again, Jesus’ words in Luke 20:25 guide us… Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s. The question for “public” engagement of issues and policies, is what does God desire of Caesar? And, what does God want His people to do in support of Caesar. In Romans 13, Paul writes…

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but too bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Give honor to the work, respect to those in authority but realize that their leadership can’t solve the big issues of life. Power can control bad folks to a degree. What is finally needed is a changed heart, and the Bible says that only the message of the Gospel in Jesus Christ can do that. So, when it comes to public engagement, Christians realize that we are to be “Dynamically engaged,” yes, but to realize that God works to bless in very different ways through His Two-Kingdom blessing. He curbs evil through government and taxes; He blesses the common good through people getting married, having children, and working hard to take care of one another, but His ultimate work is to bring salvation to all as a gift. Law and Gospel, Kingdom of the Left – Kingdom of the Right. We take them both seriously, but one is for a time, one is forever. Differentiating between the two is key!

In America, it gets even better since the constitution sets up the citizen, the disciplined, religious citizen as the “Caesar.” So, Paul’s admonition brings more work for the Two-Kingdom citizen to do. We don’t just need to honor those elected officials, we too need to be honorable. We don’t merely submit to the laws of the land, we get to participate in creating those laws for the good of all. Even there, God gives us wisdom through His Word, but the wisdom of the Law can be seen in God’s created order too. To that end… Be Dynamic… Get involved, but realize what is ultimate, what is fundamental, and what is the best that sinners can do to keep the peace and which ones matter most!

IF THAT’S TRUE… AND WE BELIEVE THAT IT IS… Then it calls for Christians to be a unique kind of citizen no matter what country they are in… But in America, it gives us a wonderful way to.

Two-Kingdoms – Church and State?

When the Bible teaches, that God engages the World for the sake of the world in two distinct ways, modern people tend to hear “Church and State” alone. Or, even worse, they hear the “separation of Church and State,” as if the Church needs to avoid having a voice in the public sphere of things in American culture. The Bible doesn’t teach such a nice, neat package. And, the founding Fathers of America weren’t afraid of too much “church” in society. They were afraid of too much power being amassed in and overarching government.

So, what’s the point? Well, when talking about “Church and State,” remember that the Bible sees this in a much bigger picture. Both the Church and the State are public entities under God’s authority and direction. But, the State, the public ordering of the world for the sake of civility and temporal justice and peace, that doesn’t just include politics and law-enforcement, that includes the vocations of Father and Mother, families… That includes the value and purpose of “work and enterprise.” That includes the various ways that people seek to serve those they love and care about with honest enterprise and committed friendship and love. When these things are ordered well, the Bible’s view on this is that “Believers strive for excellence in all they do to give God glory and to serve others in His Name.” A country that seeks to set that attitude “free,” is one that will find a way to put Church and State in proper tension and balance.

God is at Work in the World to Bless – Two Distinct Ways

Jesus said a very interesting thing in Luke 20:25, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are Gods.” And later to Pontus Pilate, the governor of Judea, who claimed that he had authority over Jesus himself, Jesus responded… “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11). Wow… God is at work. He saves the world through the person and work of Jesus, THAT’S THE MAIN MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE. But to make sure that message “gets out” for all to hear…. God keeps the world civil, humane, just, and safe (outwardly) through people like Pilate. So, God is at work in the world in two distinct ways… One to keep things civil, humane, just through His created orders of Family, Work, and Government… Or, as I like to say… God works through Fathers, Mothers, Businesspeople, and Leaders… Broken and sinful as they are, He still works through them to prevent, chaos, all Hell from breaking loose… That’s God’s Left-hand Kingdom rule, His engagement to bless. Of course, that’s not the “good news,” the great news of His Salvation by grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus… But that “Left-hand Kingdom work of God,” through even “relatively, moral” unbelievers are part of His work of blessing too. When Christians engage the Public realm, full of philosophies, ideologies, and appetites emanating from sinful, broken people just like us… We know that there is work to do to keep things sane, humane, just, and safe. But that work is part of God’s greater work to get the ultimate message of Christ out there for all to hear. Keep it safe, so the Church can speak. Keep it just, so chaos is kept at bay. Give us “rules to live by” in peace, so there can be opportunities to share a message of Grace over the fences of neighbors living side by side in peace. God’s ways, two distinct ways, Two Kingdoms, two specific types of engagement, ONE MISSION… TO ULTIMATELY BLESS THE WORLD NOW AND FOREVER.