In the previous post, I gave two examples from history, to illustrate the medieval controversy of whether the State should be subject to the church (the organization or “local church”) or the church subject to the State.
It was a legitimate question in the middle ages when Romans 13:1 was interpreted as vouchsafing the heads of state the divine right of kings and the organizational church was strong enough to contend with the State for leadership. At the end of that post though, I suggested those in the middle ages were asking the wrong question, that the question is not whether the church should be subject to State or the Sate subject to the church, but whether the Church (the true body of believers) should be subject to King Jesus.
In other words, rather than trying to put one organization under the other, which is the human impulse, we should recognize that both are under, and must answer to, King Jesus. The heads of States must answer to God (Romans 13:6), and Christians in government and in the church must answer directly to God as well. If both the State and church obey God, there will be no conflict between the two. The more the kingdom of God advances on the earth and the more people submit to God, the less conflict there will be between church and State, so long as those in the Church do in fact submit to King Jesus.
Until then we recognize that in earthly matters, the buck must ultimately stop with someone. Some person must have the final say. To quote George W. Bush, someone must be “the decider.” Someone must decide because people cannot always agree. In addition, we recognize that in a fallen world, a vertical organizational structure is necessary to ensure earthly control. One person can control five below him, who each control a limited number of people under them. This pyramid structure is the form of almost all earthly organizations. It is, I believe, the rational behind Romans 13:1 as well.
The kingdom of God is in the world, but it is a kingdom that is not of the world. John 18:36. King Jesus manages the earth via the Holy Spirit, who convicts, teaches, and guides those who submit to Him in the way they should go. It is not necessary for each person in the kingdom of God to be under a superior in a pyramid organization to hear ultimately from God. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice . . . and they follow Me.” John 10:27. The shepherd relates to the sheep through a flat organizational structure, not a pyramidical one.
Flat organizational structures usually only work in small groups because one person can only guide or manage a limited number of people. But the Holy Spirit is not so limited. He has the omniscience to know all that is happening in every situation, the omnipresence to be present in every situation, and omnipotence to act in every situation.
Recognizing that a fallen world must be run on a pyramidical structure but that the kingdom runs on a flat organizational structure, is to recognize that until world is fully leavened with the kingdom of God, there will sometimes be conflict when those in the institutional church or State are not obedient to God, such as demonstrated in the two examples described in the previous post with Thomas Becket in England and Philip IV of France.
But such messiness is part of life in a world that is fallen but in the process of being redeemed. It is part of life in a world where the kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdom of God. Revelation 11:15. GS