Right around 300 A.D., would-be Emperor Constantin teamed up with Christians to take over the Empire of Rome. Some say he saw a vision, others aren’t quite so sure. But the result of his interactions with the church caused the Christians to come out of the dungeons, and eventually to places of power in the Roman State.
We are told to pray for governmental leaders that we might lead a peaceable life. Yes. Pray, and let God work out the details. Never are we told to assume places of authority in the government so that we can make the government righteous. I say “we” as a church, though certainly God has his men in governmental places.
Turning our attention to things governmental eventually distracts us from our main purpose, the preaching of Jesus and calling out of His people from the world. Time and again God’s people have to be reminded, and called out of kingdom-building, to start over as a humble people with a clear mission, namely His Great Commission.
Wasn’t just Rome. We must decry the government of England and its hold over “Christianity” through the years. And any government of any age that believes it somehow has authority in the church of Jesus Christ, when it has none.
Bible teacher, scholar, and pastor John MacArthur has been dealing with this issue lately (2020-2021). The governmental authorities that be have tried to shut his church down because he refused to shut it down himself, over the Covid issues. We may agree or disagree with the conclusions Grace Community Church arrived at, but we must stand firm with Macarthur’s statement of independence of the church from the state.
The state is not over the church. Period.
But also, the church is not over the state, as Rome tried to dictate long ago and may yet try again. There is no Biblical precedent for church leaders marching against secular powers. That is the method of Satan. Force. Control. Islam uses it, Medieval Rome used it, and certain aberratnt religions in the East use it. It brings nothing but external cooperation. The Gospel we are pledged to preach invites man to follow from the inside, where resides the Kingdom of God today.
As Macarthur has stated since, the church is in no way dependent on the state for its life. Let the government take away all of the privileges it grants to religious organizations, and the church will flourish quite well, thank you. Even when the persecution begins, and begin it must eventually if God’s people do not wake up to the righteousness God has called them to, the church will live.
It is a bad habit and a hard one to break, but the church is simply not dependent on the favor of man, the efforts of man, the gifts of man. The church needs the Spirit, the Word, and open hearts. That’s it.
Jesus and politics? Oh no, doesn’t work. Causes confusion. Causes lukewarmness. Causes misdirection. May we repent of having leaned on anyone but the Lord for our progress.