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.

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.