Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Tale of Two Kingdoms

In our Christian circles in the United States today, we can discern a “Christendom” view, where some imagine America to be a Christian nation invested with a divine commission to bring freedom to the ends of the earth. Of course, Christians have an obligation both to proclaim the heavenly and everlasting freedom of the Gospel and the earthly and temporal freedom from injustice. But they are different. When we confuse them, we take the kingdom into our own hands, transforming it from a kingdom of grace into a kingdom of glory and power.


We also recognize an opposite view, more characteristic of the Anabaptist perspective, as evangelist D. L. Moody asserted: “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’” In this view, improving the lot of our neighbors in the world is like polishing the brass on a sinking ship. Christians are often encouraged to focus almost exclusively on personal salvation (their own as well as that of others), unsure of the value of their secular vocations. 


But we need not choose between these two kingdoms. Citizens of both, we carry out our vocations in the church and the world in distinct ways through distinct means. We need not “Christianize” culture in order to appreciate it and participate in it with the gifts that God has given us as well as our non-Christian neighbors. Though called to be faithful in our callings until Christ returns, with Abraham, we are “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:10, hcsb).  --Michael Horton