Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On "Theocracy," 6: Government [and reformation] under Lordship

Rom 13:1 - 10 makes the ethics of government under God plain:

[a] rulers are God's agents/servants -- so accountable to him! -- to do us good, and so

[b] they bear the sword in defence of justice against evildoers -- domestic and foreign,

[c] citizenship is based on honesty, prudence and frugality [especially debt control!], and on the biblical principle of neighbour-love [which is the cornerstone of coherent ethics and truly sustainable development, as the link discusses] by which

[d] we establish the principle that we must do no harm, thence the foundation for morality and just law.

All of this is rooted in the creation order of the world and the Lordship of Christ:

COL 1:15 He [Jesus the Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

COL 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel . . . . COL 1:28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

In short, the political world as well as other dimensions of the cosmos, fall under the Lordship of Christ. But this is not at all a mandate for the spreading of the message of the cross by the sword -- a necessary corrective to a sad distortion with too many blood-soaked chapters of history.

Instead, we see from v 28 that the Christian faith is, properly, a world-witness faith. As that witness goes out, it teaches us to repent, be disciples and undergo reformation in conformity witht eh principles of love to God and man, i.e. it transforms communities through the power of the truth in love, purity and the Holy Spirit. As that witness ans discipleship work deep into the lives of individuals and families in a community, we see the four R's of Revival at work:

R1 Repentance: True revivals start here. As we repent, we "put off [our] old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires . . . [and will] be made new in the attitude of [our] minds . . . put[ting] on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." [Eph. 4:18, 20 - 24.]
R2 Renewal: this is the living out of repentance as we learn and live by the light of God’s word and the power of God’s Spirit. "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mould. Instead, be transformed from within by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is." [Rom 12:1 - 2]
R3 Revival, proper: the pouring out of God's Spirit in times of refreshing. Thus, we receive anointed power from God to walk in good works in the face of a deceived, corrupt world. "In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people," so we are called to "Repent . . . and turn to God, so that [our] sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." [Joel 2:28 and Ac 3:19 - 21.]
R4 Reformation: the transformation of a community, its institutions and culture under the impact of the Lordship of Jesus as those who surrender to him fill their lives and ways with his fulness. Of course, this threatens those who draw pleasure and power from sin (or even make their living from it), so revivals will also face persecution.

So, we are not here seeing theocracy that imposes a veneer of godliness through force and fear, but instead, transformation from within through fearless and anointed witness and example, leading to ever-spreading waves of repentance, renewal of our minds and lives, seasons of refreshing, and reformation of the community as in William Wilberforce's apt phrase, goodness becomes "fashionable."

This leads to the next phase in our considerations: a practical, strategic overview of the enduring mission of the church in and beyond the Caribbean [and in other parts of the world]. As we look at that, let us also, DV, examine a point I made a little earlier: the three major forces/tidal waves in the current emerging global age. END

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