Can we serve God and Caesar? In many ways “our rights” go to the heart of the impending split within the United Methodist Church–and for that matter to the divisions within the Body of Christ.
We speak of surrendering to Christ. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23. When they hurled their insults at Christ, he did not retaliate. When he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, Christ entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. 1 Peter 2:24.
Though Christ was the Son of God–in fact God himself–he waved his rights in order to save us. We are called to do the same.
And we claim that we have, that we follow Jesus above all others. Until we are offended. Until we are persecuted. Until we are threatened. Then we claim our God-given rights awarded to us in the Kingdom of Man.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day claimed loyalty to God. Then their position and power was threatened. Turning away from God, they claimed their rights under Caesar. With the force of Roman Law, they demanded the execution of Jesus.
There are but two kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man. If we truly are dead in Christ then we have no rights in the Kingdom of Man. We’re dead. If the cancel culture has proved anything it is that the dead have no rights. The dead cannot defend themselves, protect their reputation, or prevent the living from slandering them.
If we wish to test our pulse, to see if we are still living in the Kingdom of Man, read these verses and see if our blood boils.
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” 1 Timothy 2:11-15
Jesus said, “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” – Matthew 5:38-40
Jesus said, “If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” Luke 6:34
Jesus said, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together.” Matthew 5:25
You must obey those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. So whoever opposes the authorities opposes leaders whom God has appointed. Romans 13:1-2
Those living in the Kingdom of God have no rights in the Kingdom of Man other than the right to follow the example of Christ. If in reading any of these verses you think, “Yes, but. . . ” then you are still living in the Kingdom of Man. There is no “but” in the Kingdom of God except, “But God. . . “
But God remembers the righteous.
But God has seen our hardships.
But God meant it for good.
But God has gives us peace on every side.
But God redeem us.
But God remains the strength of our hearts.
But God is compassionate and gracious.
But with God all things are possible.
But God gives us the free gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
But God raises us from to life.
But God show his love for us.
But God is rich in mercy.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.
But the word of God cannot be chained.
Any time we claim that the Bride of Christ must adapt to the Kingdom of Man in order to. . . be relevant, grow, be more inclusive, be more loving, stand up for. . . , we are asking that we relocate from the Kingdom of God and move back into the Kingdom of Man.
The Bride of Christ will only be relevant when she is married to Christ. The Bride of Christ will only grow, welcome and love all when she is married to Christ. The Bride of Christ will only be worthy of Jesus when she waves all rights and submits fully to him.