As we finish up our study of Tapestry, Bruxy Cavey teaches us the importance of visible Kingdom community and separation of church and state. These two aspects of the Kingdom were best lived out by the Anabaptists.
Last week, we began studying the Anabaptist tradition. We learned about the believer’s baptism, that salvation involves discipleship, we are called to live simply, and we should love our enemies and refrain from violence against them. These week, Bruxy shares with us the other two teachings from the Anabaptist traditions—Church as visible, Kingdom community and Separation of church and state.
The church is a visible, Kingdom community in that we view our faith as a window, and not a painting. When the Reformation began, they believed in sola fida, or “faith alone.” This was a strong difference between the Reformation and the Catholic Church. However, the Anabaptists felt that faith alone was not enough. When we stop at faith, our lives can become stagnant with Christ as our savior. And while Christ is our savior, he is also our Lord, and that requires us to live our lives in obedience to him. When we live in obedience to Jesus, we show the visible, Kingdom community.
Faith is not enough, we need to follow Jesus. When people put faith at the center of their world, then their lives can become centered on their beliefs. This can lead to their beliefs being their foundation, instead of Jesus. When Jesus is the center of our world, we depend on Jesus for our beliefs and our actions. He is our Lord who we want to obey. But it’s not just about the commands of Jesus. Jesus shows us God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit more than our beliefs ever could.
Jesus is our Lord. While Jesus was also our savior, his savior-ness doesn’t sum up Jesus’ work. Jesus was a great teacher, but his teacher-ness doesn’t sum up Jesus’ work. Only when we view Jesus as our Lord do we truly see our purpose in this world. When we choose Jesus as our Lord, he becomes our teacher, savior, and the commander of the Kingdom and its people. We follow Jesus imperfectly, but our lives are always pointed towards following him.
When we follow Jesus, we manifest the church as visible, Kingdom community. Instead of simply believing something and living our lives separate from our beliefs, following Jesus requires us to live in a different and holy way from the ways of this world. However, we shouldn’t flee from this world or hide away from our culture. Rather, we should live in the world but remember that our true citizenship is in the Kingdom. When we do this, we can be free from trying to change the kingdoms of this world into God’s Kingdom.
The separation of Church and State is critical to the Anabaptists. In Romans 13, the state uses the sword, takes revenge on God’s behalf, represents God’s judgment and wrath, maintains social order, and demands taxes and obedience. In Romans 12, the church rejects the sword, leaves vengeance to God, represents God’s infinite compassion, spreads radical love for all, and offers taxes and submission. These distinctions were important in the 1st century, and they remain important today. When the Anabaptists first formed, the church was deeply mired in political problems of Europe, and this separation by the Anabaptists was important in order to live in the way that Jesus called us.
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