Different Styles of Government, of Reign
If you read Matthew 20.20-28, you’ll see that there was a political expectation – even near the end – when it comes to Jesus’ reign. It’s a great passage. Be sure to read it. In it, Jesus rebukes the way of the world when it comes to authority. Instead of striving for prestige and praise, seek to serve and sacrifice for their sakes. This is the attitude Jesus had (Philippians 2.5-11).
Transforming Life … and Social Institutions
Christian belief may seem odd and even antisocial at times, but it can also be strangely attractive for some. At the same time, it can be subversive and transform social institutions. Philemon didn’t speak against slavery, but it planted the seeds that would eventually destroy the institution.
In the end, Jesus wins
Tension is inevitable because there is a contradiction between the world and the gospel. But that doesn’t mean, as the world would have us believe, that the gospel is a private truth. It is personal, but it is not private. It is public truth that will oftentimes lead to conflict, but we need to speak the truth, knowing that Jesus ultimately wins.
Summary of the Diversity of Biblical Themes
The church is a “transnational community” under a God who has placed human governmental authorities in place that they should obey – unless it conflicts with what God has called them to. And if it means conflict, the church can take comfort in the fact that God will win in the end.
These basic principles allow flexibility depending on the stance of the government. As change happens within believers, it is going to be beneficial to the state or cause the state to eventually persecute the church.
[Carson concludes by stating there are things Christians should do that are distinct from what the church should do. Someone commented on this in an earlier post and I’m a bit puzzled by how Carson breaks this down. I’ll have to look back because I’m not sure how he draws the distinctions so clearly. ]