CHRISTIANITY v CHRISTENDOM
Many of the misconceptions that abound about the Church today arise from a blurred distinction between 'Christianity', or Christ followers, and 'Christendom'. Christendom is not countries of Christians, but those countries whose heritage has been influenced to a greater or lesser degree by either the Church or, Christian principles and ways of thought.
Interestingly, in the Western world, particularly in Europe, politicians are now claiming to live in a post-Christian era, but they really mean a post-Christendom era. For Christianity is a lifestyle, not a governmental system. It is a personal relationship with Jesus, not membership of an organisation, even a church, which may or may not influence or run the government of a country.
While the church is a mixture, too greater and lesser degrees, of mankind and God, governments are human based, motivated to perpetuate and extend power and influence over others. Government is the means by which society is organised, so that people can work with each other, ostensibly for the greater good of all - in reality though, often for the benefit of the leadership class. While it can be influenced by Christian principles, there can't be a Christian government as such, for the aims and objectives are different. So many societies have been based, not on the 'relationship' basis of Christianity, but on a 'governmental control' system, known as Christendom. It is this era that is passing.
Governments too, often use 'religion' as a reason for justifying actions. There are numerous, sad examples, familiar to us all.
In Islam however, the state, the land, and the church, are regarded as being one. Hence they look at the West, at Christendom, as being Christianity. Theirs is a religion based upon works, rather than faith and grace, one that more comfortably sits within a governmental system. Is it any wonder, when for instance, they see pornography rampant in the West, they don't want anything to do with what they perceive as being Christianity.
The challenge then, of today's church, is to witness the love of Jesus, to illustrate by example the difference between Christianity and Christendom. Ironically, as the world moves to a post-Christian era, this is going to get easier! For less and less, can the church and the state be seen as one. In the West in particular, there are now greater opportunities for the church to differentiate itself from society, to be as different as it always should have been. To be the reflection of Jesus to a world that is increasingly running out of answers to the problems facing it. True Christianity thrives in times such as these! Let us not be dismayed by the direction of society, but rather, take the opportunity to be Jesus to others today.
Now, let me take off your sandals and wash the dust off your feet!
Walking With Jesus Ministries
3 Hetley Crescent
Phone: (06) 8449-377 International (+64) 8449-377
Find out more about us at... http://www.wwj.org.nz/about.html