“MOM AND POP PAPERS” ON TWO-KINGDOMS – A CHRISTIAN, PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE
Copyright © 2018 Gregory P. Seltz

Vocational Respect Seeking Justice!

“Abolish ICE!” “Censure the police!” “Accept no limitations!” Such are the cries of a particular segment of American politics today. The other side says, “Support the police,” “be Law-abiding citizens” emphasizing the honoring of law-enforcement, and the civilizing force of law and order over chaos and violence. How should a Two-Kingdom engagement of these issues proceed? Who is right? Who is wrong? Is it all just your perspective versus mine, your experience versus mine?

Here the Bible can give us some direction as to how to engage these kinds of divisive issues. In Romans 13:1-2, St. Paul instructs God’s people saying,

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

There is a priority, then, to one’s engagement with the “authorities.” Much like the 4th Commandment calls us to honor our fathers and mothers, prioritizing a “be subject first” attitude that honors what God has set in place for our good exists in our relationship to those with authority over us in society even today. The word “rebel” in the text doesn’t just imply mere disagreement or protest, but a total disregard for those in authority; it ultimately exposes our rebelliousness against God’s authority over our lives as well.

But does such a “be subject first” attitude mean that we as citizens blindly follow whomever is in charge? Hardly. The apostles themselves guide us here.  In Acts 5:29, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” Here, such civil “disobedience” was not rooted merely in a passionate objection, or an offended will; it was rooted in the prioritizing of God’s clearly defined will over and against the fickle will of those in authority that day. That spirit would also temper our freedom and our exercise of our own will both towards God and towards one another.

When engaging the authorities then, especially those that are legitimate, legally established, and consented to, there should be vocational respect for their position and for the laws that hold us all in common. And, if there yet be any challenges to such legitimate authority due to injustice, they should be engaged lawfully and orderly, for God is a god of order and peace (I Cor. 14:33).

In the American context, there’s a unique wrinkle to this discussion as well. The constitutional limitation of coercive authority describes the citizen’s (the one in subjection) authority to delineate the degree of that subjectivity. In fact, the citizen, with the God-given, inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, has the constitutional obligation to work toward legally defining the boundaries of those in authority explicitly for the enduring of that freedom. As Christians, we are reminded here as well, that even in freedom we “should obey God not men,” even when those men or women are we, ourselves.

An LCRL rule of thumb for public engagement then, especially when it is controversial, is that our attitude should be one of “vocational respect that seeks justice.” This means seeking to honor those in authority as a rule, and, when necessary, also correcting their leadership if we must, but in a spirit of order and peace. Why? Because true justice and lasting peace are beyond our efforts to perfectly create and maintain. Therefore it’s best to be willing to let God do His preserving work through those in authority, while also putting our full faith in God’s saving work in Christ for all. Vocational respect seeks justice as an antidote to tyranny, anarchy, and chaos. But, it is no substitute for the ultimate justice, mercy, and peace that comes from the person and work of Jesus alone. The former is intended to provide opportunities to proclaim and live within the latter. That’s something to always keep in mind, especially when issues become heated and passionate.


 

“MOM AND POP PAPERS” ON TWO-KINGDOMS – A CHRISTIAN, PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE
Copyright © 2018 Gregory P. Seltz

KEY….THIS IS A GOD THING….EVEN AMIDST THE DOING  OF “OUR THINGS.”

IT’S A BROKEN WORLD – SO NO UTOPIANISM ALLOWED

One of the hardest things to read in the Bible is when, in John 16:33, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Paraphrase….This world is a broken, sinful, even evil place. And Jesus didn’t come to make an evil place a bit better. He came to bring a brand new, eternal Kingdom because of His work in this world for all. So, when it comes to perfection, eternal life, that’s a God thing on God’s terms by God’s work for all. But we live in this world with that comfort and peace. We live in this broken world and in many ways we are trying to make it the best place it can be while proclaiming that “you ain’t seen nothing yet” if you put your trust in God.

So, how should we handle those temporal questions about how to get along with each other in this world? How should we organize ourselves for the sake of liberty, justice, and peace. Well, whatever way you try to do that, don’t forget the fundamental truths. You are dealing with sinful, broken people through and through. Whatever policy or temporal solution you put forth, there are going to be side-effects and tradeoffs. Why? Sinful people never are going to get things perfectly right and as someone has said, “The demand for perfection is often the enemy of a “good” solution.” No utopianism here because this world is always going to be “full of trouble.” So here’s some practical how to’s when thinking about what to vote for, what to vote on, or how to engage in conversations with others about what might be better for us all….It’s always a “Tradeoffs conversation.” If someone asks you about public issues or topics, you might say, “Compared to what?” There will always be unforeseen consequences and side-effects. The key through it all would be to create the most good while tempering the most bad, and always realize that God has the final answer in all these things anyway.

 

 


 

“MOM AND POP PAPERS” ON TWO-KINGDOMS – A CHRISTIAN, PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE 
Copyright © 2018 Gregory P. Seltz

KEY….THIS IS A GOD THING….EVEN AMIDST THE DOING  OF “OUR THINGS.”

HONOR YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FAMILIES –

A Christian, 2 Kingdom citizen realizes that God is at work in the world two distinct ways to bless. In the “Left-Hand” kingdom engagement, God actually works through the orders of His creation as well as through the blessings of good government. So many of the issues that we face today are some form of breakdown in these orders or through these public vocations. But, so many things are tied together, are in relationship with each other.

A healthy society can be traced back to healthy families, healthy children, strong moms and dads in the home. In those places where those relationships, that institution of marriage and family is strong, police and government can actually be “limited” because people are disciplined and motivated to do right by one’s own, and to do right by one’s community. When such things break down….when fathers and mothers stand down, often vocations of force tend to rise up to curb potential violence or discord.

The Romans 13 view of life is also predicated on the fourth commandment view of life where the Bible teaches that we are to “honor our father and mother that it may be well with us and that we may live long on the earth.” Honor our local authorities yes, but support and encourage strong families….that’s a Two-Kingdom dialogue that can bless a community.

So, the key to any discussion about policy or public solutions for a sinful, broken world like ours is always a “compared to what,” discussion. In a world that cannot fix itself, the solutions will always bring tradeoffs. But,  just because we can’t create perfect solutions, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t want the “better” solutions in our communities and neighborhoods. Even the Apostles were blessed by the “Peace of Rome,” and the good roads which provided opportunities for sharing the Gospel and living in peace among others.