A Christian is under the constant tension of being a citizen of two worlds. Paul said our citizenship is in heaven; yet had practical things to say about earthly rulers and our relationships to them. He counseled the Christians of Corinth not to marry because the persecutions ahead would make family living difficult, yet told another Greek church at Ephesus that wives should reverence their husbands, and husbands should love their wives. He practiced and preached an “other worldliness” in which one finds his satisfaction in the spiritual life, yet he illustrated that life in his letters by many references to the athletic events of his day, indicating a familiarity with them on his part and on the part of his readers.
The whole Christian movement shows this same tension. When our Lord taught about the kingdom of God, his opponents tried to impale him upon the horns of the dilemma of paying or not paying taxes to Rome, whereupon he asked for a coin. He asked whose image was on it, and they answered, “Caesar’s.” Then he who was the express image of God said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” Keeping a proper relationship between the two has always been difficult for those who bear the family name of Heaven, yet whose Lord prayed, “I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one … as thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:15, 18). Keep this last statement in mind, as we shall endeavor to see some of its significance later.
The Ideal And The Relative
And so the tension has always been with us, caused by the ideal in a relative situation. For example, ideally a Christian would be an absolute pacifist, ...1
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