Thursday, August 8, 2013

church and state

Good afternoon friends,
I hope your day is going well. Today's reading gives us some interesting insight into Roman responses to Christianity in the early years of the church. The Proconsul (sort of like a mayor, probably) Gallio listens to accusations from Jewish leaders against Paul. He doesn't imprison or attack Paul, not out of respect for him, but out of a lack of respect for the Jewish leaders. He sees religion as not something that is his area of concern. While that works out for Paul, we see that it also means when the leaders decide to beat a Christian, the Proconsul isn't interested in that as well.

Often the state is neither for or against a religion, and that's fine. We can work with government when our ministry and theirs align (feeding the hungry, building up neighborhood community, etc.) We can also disagree and voice our opinions as citizens when we think government is doing the wrong thing. But most of the time church and state have little to do with each other. We don't want special treatment or preference; we just want fairness and justice for everyone.

God bless,

Acts 18:12-23
12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. 13They said, ‘This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.’ 14Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; 15but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I do not wish to be a judge of these matters.’ 16And he dismissed them from the tribunal. 17Then all of them seized Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things.

18 After staying there for a considerable time, Paul said farewell to the believers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut, for he was under a vow. 19When they reached Ephesus, he left them there, but first he himself went into the synagogue and had a discussion with the Jews. 20When they asked him to stay longer, he declined; 21but on taking leave of them, he said, ‘I will return to you, if God wills.’ Then he set sail from Ephesus.

22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. 23After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

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