I was surprised the other day when I opened the latest issue of “Newsweek”. In it was an article about Jesus. It actually had both the word “Church” and the name “Jesus” on the front page. Read the article here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/04/01/andrew-sullivan-christianity-in-crisis.html
Sullivan reflects on the separation/union of Church and State and how this has effected the message that Christ brought forth. He seems to blame politics and power-hungry individuals for the dire straits that the Church find herself in. I agree with some of what he says. I give him credit for raising the questions in such a secular media outlet. But then on the other hand, the question of Church and State can not be answered by the secular world because the secular world does not acknowledge the Church for what she is (that’s the problem…). The secular in essence denies the Church existence. The secular world views the Church as “a worldly power institution and structure only, a political organization”. And truth be told, many Christians views the Church in the same way. This notion is wrong and very far from what the Church is.
I said before that I do not believe in the union of Church and State on this side of judgment in the “political” aspect. I also believe that when judgment is upon us then the “State of heaven” will shine its light everywhere. From a eschatological perspective, I believe that judgment (in Love) will reveal that Church and State are the same. “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess”. Ultimately our world and reality will recognise her origin. When Church and State are together then we know that judgement is here. Because the State is the giver of judgement. The State has the Law as its foundation and the Law determines what is true and what is false. What is right and what is wrong. It is the “punish-er of wrong behaviour” and the “reward-er of righteousness”. The problem however arise when we, as humans stained by sin, start to determine and define when judgement is going to happen and what it should look like. As Christians we should not be so concerned with the things that are only known to the Father, we should be concerned with doing what His Son has revealed to us (Love each other with integrity). We see that the Church, as the body of Christ is supposed to be the outpouring of grace to the world. IN this act the Church often becomes the receiver of punishment. The Church (as the body of Christ) fulfills the Law by way of offering her life for the sake of the world. So no doubt, the two are connected.
So should this motivate me, as a Christian to not stop working until all other religions are gone? In a way, Yes. Should this motivate me to work against religious freedom? No. That sounds contradictory. It sounds paradoxical. And in the paradox there is truth hidden. The questions are posed wrongly.
The Law (as well as Christianity) has no function if choice and freedom is taken away. Because true Love is not possible without freedom. It is not the Law that offers true liberation, it offers information. The Law (State) is here to reveal to us the conditions of our existence, the boundaries of our freedom. The Law defines our reality (laws of gravity and time for example). How to make sense of reality and time and how to make a good choice. Law is the great reveal-er. God gave Adam and Eve one Law: “Do not eat of that fruit”. By communicating an objective command He gave them morality and the possibility to love God freely (religious freedom..). He revealed their purpose for being (That is: to be in communion with Him). In the confinement of a set number of physical laws and one moral law He gave them the freedom to choose. This is paradox. Because, we find our ultimate freedom and happiness by giving our freedom up and subjecting it to the will of the Lord, and the will of the Lord is for us to delight in Him.
To-days resentment of the Law and Authority springs from the notion that Law and Authority does not give us freedom. We think that Law and Authority only confines us and abuses us. This is not surprising given that law and authority has done this through history. This is what happens when rulers of this world forget where the ultimate Authority lies. This is what happens when ultimate concern is not about people’s salvation and healing but about personal power. Today we reject the Law because in our pride we used the law for the wrong purposes and in doing that, it turned on us with a vengeance (which is the very nature of Law, that there is consequence to our actions).
The Law defines reality according to Gods will so that we know when something in reality has been put out-of-place or is “missing the mark” (sin). We have intrinsic knowledge of the Law by way of our morality so that we know when we are doing things that are contrary to the path of healing and salvation.
So, should Christians advocate for a Christian State religion? Should State (Law) and Church (Love) be in union? These questions are posed in the wrong way, and has been since the fall. We think that we can determine the destiny of Law and Love and what they should look like by our own wisdom. We can not. It is pride that thought that we could steer the right hand of God (Love) and the left hand of God (Law) into the direction that catered to our own will. We would do well in recognising that we are subject both to the Love and the Law of God. We would do well in recognizing that the two has the same origin and eternal purpose.
I think a good starting point for Christians that desires to spread the good news of Gods salvation (healing) would be not to focus on uprooting the tree of knowledge (take away choice and religious freedom, I mean God Himself put it there) but instead to uproot some of the other trees that are blocking the way to actually making a true choice. The trees that are causing us to look at Law and Love, State and Church from a systematic perspective only.
In the “Newsweek article” Sullivan says that we should forget “Church” and start to follow “Christ”. This false assumption, that Christ (The Head of the Church,) is separated from Church (His body) is one of the major reasons why we are asking the wrong questions.
I believe one correct question to pose would be: “How do I find peace in the tension between State and Church, Law and Freedom, Head and Body, Mind and Heart?” And the answer off course is that you don’t. But you may exercise your divinely appointed freedom and let the Prince of Peace into your heart and fulfill His Law for you. Any thoughts out there?
Just a reminder: These are only my personal ongoing thoughts and reflects the journey I am walking. I have by no means arrived at the destination.