Hello everyone! Let's get right to the heart of the matter today. I will ask a lot of questions today, please bear with me. This may be a bit brutal and I love you. I'm going to start with a doozy of a question.
Does forcing our will and/or our Christian values on others politically or otherwise work the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
I have been thinking about this lately. The Church needs to seriously consider this question and several others. On a practical level, are we offering revelation with love, truth, and grace to those who do not agree with us or do we expect unquestioning, religious compliance? Are we using wisdom and discernment when having tough conversations or are we just blurting out harsh truth? I have erred in these areas and the results has never been positive or life giving. This begs the question of a political nature. Are we in 21st century America looking to establish a state-based Christian religion via Christian Nationalism? If this is done, would it be positive and life-giving overall in the long run?
America's early colonists ran from such compliance and state-based religion when they left England to come to America. The Church of England or Anglican Church controlled religious and state life in all of England at the time. It even dictated how people worshiped God and persecuted those who did not believe the way the church said they should believe. This was a perfect example of the marrying of church and state. I find this very interesting as the Anglican Church was precisely established to get away from what was perceived at the time as "religious dogma, interference in state affairs, and persecution" by the Catholic Church. I have always found it strange how we humans will cry "injustice" in one situation then use the exact same injustice and justify it in another situation - the hallmark of our fallen natures.
The Church of England was established by King Henry VIII so he could move away from what he perceived as the "interfering Catholic Church" and the influence and power of the Pope at the time in religious, state, and moral affairs across Europe. He wanted to divorce his Spanish Catholic wife Catherine, who did nothing to him except not have a son, so he could marry a women he was having an affair with at the time (there's more to this story than I have time for here). When Rome said "no, that's wrong we won't support that", he took matters into his own hands. The Church of England was essentially Henry VIII's "hold my beer" moment and finger wave to the Roman Catholic Church. He divorced his Catholic wife under his own church rules - an act that would have a lasting, negative psychological effect on his first daughter Mary who he deceitfully declared "illegitimate" and a "bastard." I have often thought about what that must have been like for her as a young child, to be suddenly unloved by her father and thrown away so carelessly. We will never truly know.
In essence, the Church of England was established so Henry VIII (who controlled the state) could do what Henry wanted to do when Henry wanted to do it; without moral, state, or legal interference from Rome, or anyone else for that matter (hence the real problem). He would continue to marry and divorce women, sometimes executing them, as he saw fit creating political turmoil for his tiny kingdom and his wives and children. The Church of England under Henry VIII, and later kings and queens, would continue to dominate religious and state life into the time of the Pilgrims journey to America.
So where are we today? Are we on the brink of state-controlled Christianity just as England had state-controlled Christianity that drove the colonists to America? How is this different from say Communism, particularly if it's forced on a population? Isn't state-controlled Christianity (worship of an idealistic nation) just another form of idolatry just as Communism is idolatry of the state itself? What is to stop non-Christian authoritarian forces (aka Nazis and class war populists) from usurping said Christian Nationalism's power? I have no doubt they would try. After all, they seem much more willing to wield guns, knives and all manner of evil to enforce their will more so than Christian Nationalists. Is that what Christian Nationalism aims to bring us? Have they followed this through to its logical end? Can they honestly stomach what comes of this violent logical end? If that is what they aim to bring us, have they not looked back at history to determine such things are doomed to end in real religious and political war? A war they would inevitably have to fight in. And by war I do not mean in the political voting/Congressional arena. I mean on bloody battlefields in city streets and states as it was in England when they had the literal religious wars between the Catholics and the Protestants before the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Crusades come to mind as well. This is the same story, different verse. How is any of this thinking in line the spirit of Christ? How is any of this the fruit of the Spirit? Does this work the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ or does it work the plans of the Enemy for this nation? Have we been deceived Church?
Before I am completely misunderstood, allow me to say a few things. I am not saying that America does not have deep moral dilemmas that need to be worked out, we do. I am not saying that America does not need Jesus, she does. I am not saying I agree with all the chaos in this country right now, I don't. I am not saying there aren't pervasive cultural lies, there certainly are. My point in my questions and commentary today is to help us to see that the work of the Kingdom of God can't be established by un-Kingdom like or un-Christlike means. We can't use the state or the laws to be Jesus. Jesus didn't use the Roman govt or law to further his message. He worked outside of their power structure. We can't practice "means to an end" Machiavellian philosophy in our Christianity. Jesus didn't do that. We can't force or bully people personally or politically to see things our way. Jesus never did that. We can't wield truth like a weapon without grace and love. Jesus never did that. He exemplified truth, grace, and love to affect the world and ultimately died to save the world. Jesus didn't worry about what the Romans govt was or was not doing in his day-to-day ministry. This is the same man who non-chalantly told the Jews to render unto Ceasar what belonged to Ceasar and unto God what belonged to God (Matthew 22:21). He did not answer his Roman accusers (John 19:10-11) and he allowed them to beat him (John 19:1-3). He also allowed the Romans to crucify him for all of us, remember (John 10:18 and John 19:17-30)? He never once played any religious or political cards to accomplish his Kingdom work on the earth or get himself out of trouble. He rose again triumphant on the third day, even with a Roman seal on his gravestone and a Roman guard at his grave (Matthew 27:65-66). I find this both intensely hysterical and ironic. Jesus, who is very much alive today, does not need political affirmation nor require political power to accomplish his purposes in the earth. He has proven he was and is far above such things (Isaiah 55:8-9).
I will close with three questions and four true statements today: Are we afraid and therefore have the need to control others? What are we afraid of? Are fear and control Fruits of the Spirit? Jesus did not fear anyone and we belong to Him. Jesus did not control anyone and we belong to Him. Fear and control are not Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Fear and control have no basis in Christian life because fear and control are not of Jesus Christ- they are of another.
Think on these things Church. The future of America depends on how we answer these questions and deal with our hearts.