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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Old Posts: Worship of the State

I've posted this here before, but as the subject of the article continues to be a major problem in the American church, I think it is worth revisiting.

This coming Sunday is Independence Day here in the United States. This, in turn, means that churchgoers this Sunday will be greeted with a myriad of patriotic symbols that don’t normally show up on Sunday morning. Many are used to the American flag being always in front of them during their worship services. But this Sunday, that flag will be saluted, or even carried down the center aisle in a procession, even in churches that don’t normally have processions. Patriotic songs will be sung where hymns usually go. Extra prayers will be said for politicians as well as for our troops deployed throughout the world. Most sermons will carry an American theme. In some churches, those sermons will be of the “let’s get God back in America again” variety, complete with the standard talk about legalized abortion and absence of prayer in schools. In some churches, the sermon will be a vague sentiment about what a great country we live in.

And in all of this, very few people will stop and ask why they are doing all those things. It is the Fourth of July, after all, and this is what you do.

But why? Why is this assumed to be standard practice? I think the reason, as I mentioned in a previous post, is the victory of statism over society. We live in a country where the state wants to own everything, and we gladly oblige. They own our children. They tell us where and when to send our children to school, what they are to be taught, what they are to do while they are there, and what import this has upon their lives. They own our property. If they want a piece of it to build a superhighway, they tell us they are going to buy it or else take it. “Our” land, apparently, is only on loan from the government. They own our other possessions as well. They tax the money we make, then what we spend it on, and what we leave to our children when we die, if they have left us anything to leave to our children.

And we respond to all this by, every once in a while, giving them the one hour on Sunday morning that God has called His own. Now it is clear that the government wants that hour every Sunday. Whenever a church becomes incorporated in the United States, it gives over the rights to what it says and does on Sunday morning to the state, though thankfully the state has yet to assert its “right”. But the church is not an adjunct of the state. The church, as presented in Scripture, is a whole separate institution. It is instituted by God, with its own laws and its own leaders. The leaders of the state have no authority in the church.

When the Church of Jesus Christ comes together on Sunday morning, it is for one reason alone – to worship the Triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. It isn’t to lift up the State as the great saviour of mankind (which it is not).

I recognize that the chances that what I’m writing here will be read by someone in a church somewhere who makes decisions on what goes on on Sunday mornings is very slim. Nonetheless, to those of you who do read this, I encourage you to think through the question and consider it carefully. Pray for your congregation and its leaders. Pray that the pressures of the state will decrease against the church. Don’t be afraid to talk with your church leaders about the matter. And seek to live your own life, insofar as you legitimately can, free from the tyranny of the state.

For a further consideration of the subject of flags and the church, this article written from a Canadian Reformed perspective is well worth reading.

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