Last week we talked about the genius of “Dynamic Differentiation,” the understanding that God is at work in the world to bless and to save. Through government—sinful and broken as it might be—God is at work to preserve the world from peoples’ vice-filled intentions. Through the Church, God is at work offering His grace, forgiveness, life, and salvation to all realize that even their best efforts aren’t enough, to those who repent and put their faith in His work through His Son Jesus. Two ways, God at work….to bless and save.
Today we talk about a different way to be publicly active in the world as part of God’s work in the realm of “Caesar.” In today’s world, people often think that “all things are political.” We didn’t always think this way. Do you remember, just a few years ago, people used to say, “Don’t make a federal case about it.” Today, virtually everything seems to be a federal case. A Two-Kingdom, public philosophy offers a third way, a vocational way that all can embrace to serve others for the common good.
In an excellent article in First Things titled, “Two-Kingdom Theology in the Trump Era” by LCMS member Lyman Stone, he argues that Luther, reflecting on how God engages the world His two ways, expanded the notion of “vocation” and literally changed the world. The changes for the individual, the citizen in society, were profound. No longer would the average person be insignificant in their service. No longer would only the vocations of the elites, whether in church or in government, matter. Now, each person in their God-given station in life had the potential to be part of God’s persevering work. And, Luther’s view on vocation elevated the common person to the point where people began to think of average people not as “subjects” but as a “citizens.” Incredible!
So, what’s the point? Well, take this to heart. Not everything is political and that’s good news. If you think things must change here in Washington D.C., I agree with you. But that doesn’t change the fact that the most influential place where one can serve is with one’s family, one’s community, with one’s neighbors and friends. To be the best father, mother, leader, business person, teacher, policeman, alderman, school board member, etc.…that’s where our influence will always be its greatest. To be active in the neighborhood for the sake of the neighborhood, that’s a third way to “be involved.”
In my work in Washington D.C., my main role is to be active in protecting the First Amendment, public rights of our Churches, Schools, and Universities. And, the good news is this. Right now, the federal government seems to be heeding our voice and protecting those liberties more than in the recent past. For that we are grateful, and for that we will continue to diligently fight. But the purpose of that effort is to show the world that ultimately the best general service for the community’s blessing is not a “government thing,” it’s a neighbor to neighbor thing, where we all seek to look out for each other first, calling for the coercive powers of the government only when it can’t be solved any other way. Look to the stations in which God has planted you. Undergird the ones around you with prayer and encouragement. And look across the fence to your neighbor first before calling the “911 of public policy” as your solution. We’ll all be glad we did in the end.