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I have been reflecting on the year that is now almost past. Since God is sovereign over history, I have also pondered over which events might signal what God is doing today. I have also been pondering the role of the church in the world that is rapidly changing.

This is the year that Queen Elizabeth died. I, along with millions of others, watched her funeral. If there was ever doubt about The Queen’s faith, it was laid to rest along with her body. For the last 70 years, the monarch of England and the Commonwealth has held a firm and unflinching faith and loyalty to Christ her Lord. I marvelled that one woman’s faith would be on display in all the secular networks. But as I thought about The Queen’s passing, I also thought about the role of the state church of England. Today, about 10 percent of England’s population identify as Anglican. The state church of England continues to be in decline and may falter entirely.

This year was also the year that Russia invaded Ukraine. And here, at The Queen’s passing, I thought again about the role of the Church and the State. This past Easter, Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church, stood up to deliver a sermon at the beginning of Orthodox Lent. He spoke not about the sufferings of Christ and of our salvation, but instead portrayed the invasion of Ukraine as a struggle for the eternal salvation of ethnic Russians. Here, as we have seen so many times in history, the state church placed her full authority behind a nation’s war effort. Church and state were fully wedded.

This blog is not a commentary on the state church. Rather, it is a call for the people of God to remember Jesus’ words, recorded in John 18:36. Jesus had just been brought before Pilate, who seemed intent on ascertaining whether Jesus claimed to be a king, and whether such a claim was a threat to the emperor in Rome. Jesus responded by affirming that He indeed was a king, but that His kingdom was not of this world, for if it were, His servants would have been fighting to prevent His arrest. But as it is, His kingdom is not of this world.

Pondering the events of 2022 has made me aware of the radical nature of the true Christian message. The temptation of the church is always to involve herself in the ongoing struggle for power. In the case of The Queen, her faith was unshaken, even while her nation’s faith did not mirror that of her monarch. In the case of the Patriarch of Moscow, his faith was clearly shaken. He had traded his role as a vicar of Christ for a vicar of the state.

In the light of these events, I hear a clarion call for the church. Do not be an organ of the state. Nor should you be known for your opposition to the state. Be known for your love for Jesus and His gospel. Live as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Proclaim that the kingdoms of this world will soon pass away, but a kingdom is coming that will never pass away. Proclaim that whereas the kings and kingdoms of this Earth jockey for power, but as servants of the great and final king, we will be known for humility, care for the poor, the love of all men, and a glad proclamation of the saving news of Jesus. Never take your eyes off Jesus. And never trade your spiritual authority for the authority of worldly power.

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld is the national Bible teacher at Back to the Bible Canada. He has served as Senior Pastor, church planter, conference speaker and educator, and is known both nationally and internationally for his passion and excellence in expositional preaching and teaching.

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