My name is Keith Giles. I love to write so that people can know Jesus and experience His life in their own.
So, I started this blog to help people understand who Jesus is, and how He reveals what the Father is really like.
This is a safe place to talk about all those questions you've had about the Bible, and Christianity. It's also a place to learn how to put the words of Jesus into practice.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Who Are We?
Often when I write about how Christians should do what Jesus
said and love our enemies, or turn the other cheek, someone will challenge me
on that and ask, “Then what should we do about ISIS?” or “What should we have
done about Hitler?”
The question itself betrays their confusion.
See, when I say “We should love our enemies” and “We should
bless those who curse us and do good to those who hate us” I am talking about
the Church. That’s the only “We” I know of.
But when other Christians respond by asking “What do we do
about ISIS?” they reveal that, to them, “We” equals the State, not the Church.
So, to them, they can’t understand how following the
commands of Jesus might work when it comes to addressing national threats.
The reason why it won’t work is that Jesus never meant for
his commands to be obeyed by national governments. He was speaking to His
followers – the Church.
This came into clear focus for me recently when I was
reading the book, “The Reformers and Their Stepchildren” by Verduin. In this
book, the author explains how the Anabaptists and the Reformers clashed over
exactly the same issue – “Who are ‘WE’?”
The Reformers said that “We” equaled everyone in a given
nation. They believed in a sacral society where everyone was expected to follow
the same religion under the control of their civil government.
The Anabaptists – in contrast – believed that “We” only
pertained to the Church – the Body of Christ and that the State authority ended
at the doorstep of the Ekklesia.
Today’s Christians are still very much in the Reformed
mindset. Especially those who appear to be pushing – and pushing hard – for a
theocratic form of government where the laws of our land are crafted to coerce
everyone (Christian or otherwise) to act like a Christian.
They also tend to see America as a Christian Nation and
attempt to “bring America back to God” – as if it were ever a nation that
exalted God, obeyed Jesus or acted like Christ.
This difference in perspective is significant. It’s ancient.
It’s also deadly. Because the Christians who align themselves
with the State have the power of the Sword and – historically – have used that
power to imprison, torture, and even put to death any who disagree.
As you might guess, I take a more Anabaptist approach. I see
a clear, Biblical distinction between the State and the Church. [See Romans 13, for example]
The early church also stood firm against the idea that one
could be a Christian and participate in the affairs of the Empire, or politics.
"I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be
rich; I decline military command... Die to the world, repudiating the madness
that is in it."
(Tatian’s Address to the Greeks)
"A military commander or civic magistrate must resign or be
rejected. If a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he
has despised God."
(Hippolytus of Rome)
Who are we, then?
This question of identity is an important distinction.
Do we primarily think of ourselves as patriots and citizens
of the nation in which we were born? Or do we see ourselves as strangers and
aliens in this place and citizens of a Kingdom that is above?
If we see ourselves mainly as nationalistic people, then we
will act accordingly. Politics will sway us. Wars will inspire us. Economics
will influence us.
But if we see ourselves mainly as people of the Kingdom –
people who are not of this world – then we will live accordingly. We will be
moved by what moves the heart of Jesus. We will be concerned with the things
that Jesus was primarily concerned with – love, compassion, service, mercy,
justice, and forgiveness. We will be compelled to follow Him and to put His
words into practice, no matter what the cost.
So, who are “we” then?
NOTE: This article is Part 2 in a series of "Jesus Untangled" articles.