This recent pandemic has turned things upside down. Leaders have been caught off guard and experts have no precise idea of what to do. People of faith are not immune from the turmoil, and unfortunately, some have likewise grown angry and fearful of the future.
Time to stop and recalibrate.
In City of God (ca. 410 AD) Augustine wrote there are two cities: The earthly city that loves self and holds God in contempt, as well as the heavenly city that loves God and holds self in contempt. As Christians, we know and struggle with this conflict everyday. In the earthly city (governments of men), leaders may be corrupt, laws unjust and virtue scarce, but scripture tells us these are ordained by God to secure a measure of peace (Romans 13:1-3). Certain civil liberties may be lost but the citizenry will survive.
Aristotle argued that because man could speak and morally reason, he was by nature a political animal. I suppose it is only natural that Christians are interested in the circumstances around them that affect their family’s daily life, but to what extent do we defend political views or civil liberties? Jesus wasn’t crucified to secure voting rights.
As disciples of the Lord, we are called to citizenship in the heavenly city (Hebrews 12:22-24). We’re not lost, we know where that city is and we look forward to the day when we can walk in the fullness of our new creation before the throne of God…don’t we?
Have we not commented in countless Bible classes that the first-century church was able to grow and flourish throughout the world in spite of the pagan Roman government? Could that dynamic not be replicated today? What if it were the plan of God to so again? What pattern of behavior would we follow?
Having traveled more times than I can count the past eighteen years with my wife to the former Soviet Union, having made loving friendships with many Russian Christians, having known their stories of faith in spite of their totalitarian world, I developed a deep respect for them, and I’m not worried for my grandchildren or even great-grandchildren. Let me explain.
For 2000 years no human government has successfully stood between a believer and God…some have tried but always failed. Can you imagine all the trauma these disciples had to endure, simply to worship and honor the Lord in their own lives? I don’t think I can.
I turned 69 yesterday. We (baby boomers) have had the best of the best of this country (so far), and we recoil at the thought of giving that up. But in a moment of clarity, we must admit we didn’t need that prosperity to serve God. Here’s my point: Our grandchildren or great-grandchildren may never know the fullest liberties this country has provided in the past, but as long as they have the New Testament story of first century Christians, which overcame pagan rulers and unjust laws to still serve the Lord and teach the gospel, our kids can make it…under any government.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38,39