Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's a communist government to do?

This is a continuation of the last post, attempting to deal with the question: Should the Chinese government do all that it can to regulate the Church? I mean, does the state have/should have a legitimate fear of these house churches?

I think you could answer the question, both yes and no.

Yes-The government "should" have a legitimate fear with what's going on. When the apostle Paul writes that Jesus is Lord, he is saying that Cesar is not Lord. There is an order of allegiance. Jesus becomes our ultimate King and we are called to obey Him rather than any man when those two commands intersect (though I think those two intersect probably less frequently than we like to admit here in the States). So if a communist state demands total allegiance, no matter what, then I guess that could/should create cause for concern.

In addition, because Christians have an ultimate allegiance to their Savior Jesus, they may have to abstain or speak up against certain practices of the state. For instance, if the state recommends an abortion to reduce over-population, then I could see the state having some legitimate concern. Early Christians made others look bad, and even an official named Pliny the Younger complained about them taking care of THEIR poor as well as those inside the church. So a healthy church can make the government look heartless, if not foolish.

No-Jesus also demands our ultimate allegiance, even more so than allegiance to family: suburbanites have a very hard time with this. But just as honoring Jesus before our families is actually the best for our families (they don't become idols that way), so is honoring Jesus even before the government. When it comes to honoring the government officials (Rom 13, I Peter 2:13-14,17) , we really don't get a vote. It's a command. So in that sense, the government should do everything to stay out of the way of the church. Healthy Christians make good citizens.

I Peter even challenges Christians not to repay evil with evil, particularly at the government level. Ideally the government will then take notice and recognize the folly of their hatred for the church.

1 Peter 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people

When the government is wrong, it seems Christians are to prove the government wrong by their good deeds and obedience as opposed to revolt. So again, no, they shouldn't stop the church's from flourishing.
In the end, should our neighborhoods, communities, and governments be "better off" with healthy reproducing churches? From my vantage point, yes, and I guess it probably depends upon what "better off" looks like. But ultimately I think the government reaction to the gospel will mirror the individual non-believer's response to the gospel. They will have reason to love us if we love them in such a way as we're called to. Yet they will have reason to hate us, because they first hated Jesus for his "arrogant" claim that only He can save.

The best answers often involve a little yes and no.

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