Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Church, State, Word

We are going to have to earn our way back to the table.

[The bishop] took [Mochuda] with him to the place where the king was. "Here," said he, "is the pupil thou gavest me; and he is well instructed in the Scripture. And now offer thyself and thy kingdom to him, and to God." "He seems to us young and immature," said they. The holy bishop threw himself on his knees, and said: "I offer myself and my church to him," said he. Then the king threw himself on his knees, and offered himself, men, children, and women to God, and to Mochuda."

  - Anonymous, Life of Mochuda (Irish, 17th century, from an earlier ms.)

If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.

  - Deuteronomy 19.16, 17

We have heard a good deal of fussing lately about freedom of religion, the first amendment, and the limits of government, all because of the Obama Administration's regulation requiring health care providers to cover birth control and "morning-after" pills in their policies.

I have written about this previously, so I would encourage you to review the brief I laid out in ReVision back on Valentine's Day of this year. I do not intend to rehearse that viewpoint here.

I simply want to show how, during the Celtic Revival, holy men like Machuda, who was also known as Carthage, were able to command respect because of their knowledge of Scripture and the holiness of their lives.

Mochuda (fl. mid-7th century) was a swineherd who loved the psalms and all things spiritual. His father detested him because he preferred things spiritual to material success. The king of his province found him a promising youth and offered him a high rank in his military, but Mochuda declined. By remaining a swineherd, he explained, he would be able to hear the preaching from local monks as they came out to minister.

The king recognized God's hand in this and sent Mochuda off to study and prepare for service in the Lord's Kingdom with the local bishop. In a short time Mochuda had achieved such mastery of Scripture and discipline of life that the bishop was ready to turn all his churches and charges over to the care of this able shepherd. He took him to the king and recommended that the king submit to his authority in matters spiritual and terrestrial, and the vignette that introduces this letter gives the rest.

Judges and priests in ancient Israel - kings and bishops in medieval Ireland - were expected to be so well grounded in the Word of God that, in difficult matters, they could come together under the authority of the Word and discern God's will in a way that preserved justice and love for God and neighbors.

Mochuda embodied this principle - justice, consisting of truth and love. Both the Church and the State of his day understood the value of submitting to him, so that they might prosper in the good pleasure of the Lord.

The Church must not allow herself to remain excluded from matters of public policy. But we are going to have to earn our way back to the table. The State has grown accustomed to doing whatever it thinks is best, politically defined, and has left off consulting the wisdom of God's Word. This is a radical departure from the mindset of our Founders.

But until the Church - until we as Christians - demonstrate that we take God's Word and His Law seriously, that we know it thoroughly and esteem it above all other things, and that we live out in practice the love and justice it teaches, we will not be able to persuade political officials of the wisdom of that Word for knowing the blessings of God upon our land.

Appeals to the first amendment swing both ways, and they leave ultimate decisions in the hands of secular and pragmatic policy-makers, executives, and judges. This nation deserves a higher court, the court of God's Word; but Christians must be able to show, by our lives and words, that in that court hope can be found, that government - and all others - do well to heed.

Then, perhaps, we may again see both Church and State looking to the wisdom of God for how we ought to live as one nation.

We have made the Word of God a stench in the nostrils of our secular neighbors. We must take responsibility for helping them once again to taste and see that the Lord is good.

For each of us this is a matter of spiritual maturity. You owe it to yourself to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior in ways that will allow you to be an agent of grace and truth, a point-person for the Kingdom of God. Sign-up for our course, SpT1 Spiritual Maturity: Revival, and get on a program for real growth and change as a citizen and ambassador in the Kingdom of God. The course is free, and we'll even give you a Mentor, if you like.

T. M. Moore, Principal

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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