Summary: Independent from England--Now dependent upon God
Sermon for the 4th of July 2016
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty we’re free at last!
Tomorrow we celebrate the 4th of July—Independence Day—Freedom from the rule of England! Out of this freedom came our constitution and the bill of rights formed in 1789.
I thought it might be interesting—at least to me—and different if we take a brief look at how this freedom from England affects our lives today, especially in regards to the church.
I bet you never thought you would hear part of the constitution read from the pulpit, but the first amendment of the constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Yet it wasn’t until 1947 that the modern separation of Church and State was created by the Supreme Court. This ruling prohibits any federal, state or local government preference or support for religion. It basically eliminates religion from the public square.
How did we get to this point and again what does it mean for us today as so-called Christians?
Sure in earthly terms we are supposedly an independent people, but in heavenly terms we are dependent upon a different type of government.
Today in the Scriptures we also celebrate Independence Day—Freedom from the rule of sin—However we now become dependent upon God. Two types of freedom.
Two types of Kingdoms (Earthly and Heavenly). Yet both are acquired through commitment, sacrifice and blood.
Do the two have anything in common? As a Christian what do I do with my emotions and feelings that I have for some of the most touching and crucial issues that exist in our world today?
What do I say and do as a Christian when it comes to the war in Middle East and the terrorism associated? What do I say and do as a Christian when it comes to abortion, assisted suicide, the death penalty, gay marriages and immigration? Are we to separate these two kingdoms or put them together?
Today I thought it might be interesting—at least to me—if we took a look at how Christianity has evolved in viewing their role in relating to the secular world and especially how Lutherans have come to understand their relationship between the church and the real world, between the church and state, between the kingdom of earth and the kingdom of God.
The earliest Christians due to the writings of some of first Christian Fathers, some of whom you may never heard of, such as Origen and Polycarp of the 2nd century claimed that Christians should not hold any public office.
Remember this is a new religion according to the state and the earliest Christians were dying for their faith. Therefore they claimed that followers of Jesus should and must simply withdraw from public service offering up their prayers instead of their bodies.
Once we come to the time Saint Augustine (400CE), Christianity is in full bloom. It is now a national religion ordered by the emperor Constantine in 313AD.