There is an assumed art to putting smoke without fire on show. Exhibit A and B in the modern era are the United Kingdom and the United States. Let me remind us that there is a beast – a corporate entity – that is mired in bogus excellence and shallow displays of civic progress. What else can we conclude in the age of “repeat garbage until it becomes treasure” when we know that just such a lying entity “comes up out of the earth” appears as a lamb and speaks as a dragon (Revelation 13:11-12) subjecting all humans to its devil worship or death? It will be clear from Christ’s teaching and practice that the church of Christ has no conflict with any government. There is simply neither competition nor partnership between the Saviour of the world and the world’s governments even though his death was orchestrated by two governments, one secular and the other religious.
We do not go as far as the Islamic Republic of Iran to call the United States or any other entity “the great satan” but just about anyone can earn the title, even individuals in the inner circle of God’s servants and friends.
The deadly opposition game
When the apostle Peter expressed his opinion that execution as a criminal was a bridge too far for his master he earned the title “satan”, and it was not due to demonic possession and Peter was not the devil. He was functioning as opposition. This sense of opposition or resistance is what underpins the Hebrew verb satan (שתן). Examples of its use appear as follows.
Oppose (Psalms 38:20), accuse (Zechariah 3:1), “those who are adversaries” (Psalm 71:13).
The church has an ongoing warfare with desires and deception. It is decidedly not carnal. It is not a battle between individuals (flesh and blood) or groups (contrived entities). Israel, as the entity chosen to guard and preserve the record of divine intervention, had no division of church and state. The many attempts by religious groups to dominate public life are clearly hostile to God’s design. The deceit and criminal practices of churches and parachurch associations are out in the open. The state in the western world is not hostile to the church. The churches depend on the state to legislate freedoms and, as in the general situation, prosecute wrongdoing. Recent history confirms the ancient observation that treachery is not restrained by government just as surely as the law of God did not prevent protracted violation of the covenant.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6
Christ can find no effective alliance with government. How do we know? The kings of the earth organized themselves against God’s appointed rulers and leaders. It was true of Joseph, David, John the Baptist and the prophets. He is most assuredly not opposed to the organization of people into village, town, province and nation.
Church and state innovations
Israel can only be a kingdom again when the “church” and the state is governed by a priest-king. The church that wants political power is an anomaly that we have pretended not to have seen. We have been warned about wickedness in high places and we must recognize now that genocide is not the most wicked activity to be engaged. Persecution from churches or religious entities is not a modern phenomenon.
The blindness that accompanies Canada’s attempt to erase its First Nations is near absolute. King David of Israel could not build a temple because of his involvement in homicide. How on earth can Canada, the United States, or any other entity engage in nation-building with their hands handcuffed to the tools and weapons of murder and discrimination?
The perpetrators of genocide in Canada operated under the cover of the Vatican, the only church with nation status. The prevailing attitude of many states when dealing with people considered undesirable has been homicide. The nations, including the Vatican, seem to have assumed that clearing people out of the way for new residents has divine approval.
Church and state relations may yet turn out to be the severest test of spiritual fidelity. It was true of Israelites in Babylonian exile, true of Yeshua’s disciples facing the Roman empire and Judean religious government, and true of the brave heroes of the Protestant Reformation. What the modern church does not need are paper tigers leading people into unnecessary and deadly conflicts with the authorities.