Tuesday, May 29, 2012
You are a Citizen of what, accountable to whom?
I was thinking yesterday ( a dangerous proposition to be sure) when I was reminded of what citizenship is, and its implications. We call ourselves citizens of the Kingdom of God, I have but one question, just how serious are we about that proposition? We say over and over again that we are in it but not of it, when faced with true occasion to prove this how well do we do on the test. Trust, this question does not come without a great deal of self-examination, and I must confess I do find myself wanting. In this election year no doubt there are many who cling to Romans 13, yet ignore Roman 12 Many in this country get confused with regard to the role of the state vs the role of the church. To them may I point this out of both chapters . Romans 12 tells us in no unclear language (Rom 12:14-21) 14 Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.17 Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. 21 Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good. If you note there is nothing here that states that we should become activists willing to attempt to legislate from the top down… Keep in mind many of us can barely keep our own homes together, some of us have barely mastered our own passions, and yet we feel it is our job to legislate.. Well I did mention Romans 13 did I not, and here is what it has to say about the state (Rom 13:1-7) 13 Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment. 2 Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged [in divine order]. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves [receiving the penalty due them]. 3 For civil authorities are not a terror to [people of] good conduct, but to [those of] bad behavior. Would you have no dread of him who is in authority? Then do what is right and you will receive his approval and commendation. 4 For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, [you should dread him and] be afraid, for he does not bear and wear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant to execute His wrath (punishment, vengeance) on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath and escape punishment, but also as a matter of principle and for the sake of conscience. 6 For this same reason you pay taxes, for [the civil authorities] are official servants under God, devoting themselves to attending to this very service. 7 Render to all men their dues. [Pay] taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due. Once again nothing here about attempting to legislate our viewpoint from the top down, and why not? Well for one thing we are not (or at least we are supposed to not be of this world), meaning that our citizenship is not here. I am an American citizen, however that tie pales in comparison to my Citizenship to the Kingdom of God. Why is that? Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5: 20) 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God. Allow me to provide an example. If you as a citizen of the US were to work in say France, would you be a citizen of that country? Of course not however there would be things that would be required of you, you would be required to pay taxes on monies made on the country of course, you would be subject to its laws of course but if France were to go to war against Germany (yeah yeah same old story I know) would you be required to fight in said conflict, of course not, why, because you are not a French citizen. Same principal applies. We are Citizens of the Kingdom, and Ambassadors at that, we are supposed to not be concerned with the affairs of state, and why not, because if we are Citizens of the Kingdom and we actually believe that no state can be in power except God ordain it then why would we worry about the affairs of state. There is a difference my friends between being passive the way the world sees it and being passive the way the Kingdom sees it . There is a difference between bringing about Justice and equity by any means necessary a la Malcolm X and bringing about Justice by way of love a la MLK. Here is what I mean. If Christ is our example if He really is, then we ought to be willing to lay down our lives out of love, even for the ones coming against us. We look the most like Christ when we are serving especially when it comes from the example He set on the cross. That is something that Western christianity does not get. We are visitors here yes we are called to serve, yes we are supposed to leave this place better than when we found it, but we are not to be so wrapped up in the state or culture that we find ourselves becoming part of the culture and even using the tools of the culture to try and make change. Jesus never did. Yes, He walked among us. Yes he spent more time around those whom society and the culture of His day would claim are the throwaway people. He never engaged in the methods of the day to change the culture, nor did He ever forget He was not from around here. How many of us are willing to so serve the poor, the homeless, the prostitute, and yes the homosexual to the point of death? How many of us really live like we do not belong so much that we are willing to lay it all down, in order to render service to and show love for those who our society at large disregards? How many of us are willing to go to in my city its lower Wacker drive and serve food to the homeless down there, or bring them clothes when its bitterly cold. How many of us are willing to go to the strip where the prostitutes hang out and actually do ministry there? How many of us are willing to go to the gay pride parade and serve water to the participants, no strings just serve, no preaching unless a door open to where you can share the gospel and not in the “I am coming from the book of Leviticus” way but rather , yes I am a Christian, no I am not here to berate you, but rather I am here to serve you, and yes to apologize and beg your pardon for the way things have been both said and done to you by those who call themselves my brothers and sisters. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/06/nyregion/06ministry.html . I wonder when will the day come that we really believe what we preach? I long for that day. We can work for peace we can agitate and we can make this place better than when we found it, but in order to do that we have to first let go of the religious methods of looking like the state. We cannot be citicens of the state, and Citizens of the Kingdom at the same time. What Jesus said about serving two masters concerning money also applies here as well , the old saying is to wear this world as a loose garment. We cannot do that if we find ourselves so embroiled in the actions of the state that we are seeking to intertwine ourselves with it. We do not seek to intertwine ourselves with the affairs of sinner so as to participate in them, then why is it that we seek to do this? Why do we seek that power? Why do we go after that preeminence? Some would say that we are to “occupy” until the Lord’s return, they would say that it is a military term. They are right it is a military term were the language used be military. First let’s pull it apart contextually. Jesus never said this to the disciples, it was used in a parable. Secondly the term occupy is the greek word pragmateuomai, this is not a military term, it means to continue the business of a banker, or to continue. Somehow this has come to mean a military term, and this is very wrong. We are not to be about using the tactics of the world to initiate change. Everytime the church has used the tactics of the state, not only has it been an ultimate failure, it has all but closed doors to the church’s ability to be effective. Anybody remember the failure of the church in Europe during the 13th through 18th centuries. This was due mostly to people resisting the state, and of course the state was so intertwined with the church that inquisitions took place in both Spain and France leading to murders taking place in the name of Jesus. Why is it so hard for us to understand we are not to be about legislating our faith? But I tell you this, if we really believe what we are saying about this, we need to lobby to have an amendment to constitution to outlaw divorce……I mean really if we are going to go after things that God hates, one would think that this would be at the top of everyone’s list… But I digress as a character in Tombstone retorted to the main character of the film, “my hipocrasy only goes only so far, and I quite willing to believe that to be the case for most of us. So, any takers on outlawing divorce???