For the Lord’s Day
[From time to time I share in one or another of my columns or posts reflections offered in the spirit of that exclusive devotion to God, suitable for the day of our Lord set apart for that purpose. I set down the following thoughts after reading a column by Ron Cantor, published here on Barbwire.com]
I’ve never understood the logic of Christian political commentators who compare Donald Trump to the Persian King Cyrus, of Biblical fame. Though many of them profess to be conservatives, their willingness to make this comparison utterly disregards a fundamental fact about the Constitution of the United States: i.e., that it is ordained and established by authority of the people of the United States. Theirs is the sovereign right of liberty, endowed by God, to order and maintain government in the United States. The body politic, formed by the vote wielding citizens of the United States occupies the position of sovereign human rule over our nation, comparable to the rule of Cyrus over his empire.
Any and all the Presidents of the United States are, Constitutionally, just the chosen ministers of this sovereign body. In comparing the historic actions of the Constitutional sovereign of the United States with those of the sovereign ruler of Persia, we must therefore look at the activities of the whole nation, as they reflect, in any given instance, the will of the people of the United States.
Now, in the Biblical account, after the conquest of Babylon Cyrus allowed captive peoples to return from Babylon to their native lands. He was, at that point, at the zenith of his power. Looking at the history of the United States thus far, it is fair to say that, as a nation, we reached the Zenith of our power in the aftermath of WWII. At that point, we were effectively unchallenged for preeminence among nations. In the context of our efforts to reduce the likely outbreak of another world war, we championed the end of colonial European rule over peoples in various parts of the world. In terms of their liberty, we thus sought to restore their homelands to them, out of foreign control.
But at present our circumstances every day seem more reminiscent of the fall of ancient Babylon than of the return of the Israelites to Jerusalem. This is because the character of our sovereign body as a people has deteriorated. Originally conceived in terms of the pursuit of justice according to God’s will (the proper meaning of God-endowed unalienable right), we have now fallen prey to the delusion that our sovereignty will be sustained by the restoration of greatness, measured in material power. This delusion substitutes our will for God’s will, implying that we now conceive of ourselves as being apart from God, rather than living, moving and having our being within Him.
But as Christ followers, our life in God is alone the source of life itself within us. When our nation began, we acted upon this truth, therefore acknowledging that our capacity for liberty (the exercise of sovereignty according to God) is the consequence of our conformity to the law of God within us—first as a matter of the law written into our nature (the laws of nature and of Nature’s God), and then in consequence of the indwelling Spirit of God in Jesus Christ. Christ is the living Word, which informs us in righteousness, so that our mind and will are transformed in conformity to the mind and will of God.
In this respect, the kingdom of God, found in us because of our acceptance of the rulership of Christ, is our native place. For only in Christ are we brought back into being as children of God—directly, according to the information of Christ’s example, above and beyond the prescriptions of law. In Christ are we united in liberty, so that the free exercise of righteousness according to God’s will becomes the sovereign liberty of our self-government, dedicated to establishing justice, and securing the surcease of the unrest wrongdoing inevitably produces, and the ills that invariably proliferates.
To be sure, in our day anti-Christ forces strive mightily to remove us from this kingdom, wherein, as a people, the Lordship of Christ within us ratifies the claim of sovereignty we share in common. Yet because our life in God’s kingdom is a matter of our willing acceptance of Christ, as our Lord, how can we be deprived of it except by the alteration of that good will? As our government is self-government, so our abdication and exile from the kingdom wherein we practice self-government is self-exile.
In this regard, we retain, at every moment, the power to be Cyrus unto ourselves. To return to our native place we do not need the gift of any human person. We can do so whenever we choose to return to serving Jesus Christ, the person of God who first represented that service to us, so that, by following his example, we could become and remain worthy of the sovereign responsibility it entails.
Thus, thanks to the ministry, passion and death of Jesus Christ, we are not a people in captivity. We are a people freed by the resurrection of Christ within us. We are a people called, as individuals and as a nation, to bear witness to the Gospel of Christ; so that, by the light of Christ, which our testimony discovers, others may find their way to the liberty wherewith he has the power to make people, from all nations, free.
What sense does it make to look for another Cyrus, when one greater than Cyrus is the vine from which we are supposed to hang, as branches bearing the good fruit of justice, liberty and true life, available to all who are willing, by the power of God, to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalms 34:8)
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