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Why I’m Thankful for living under a Nepotist Regime

Written by Jordan Peacock : January 25, 2008

churchkuwait.jpgTo jump off from the conversion that has erupted from Mark’s discussion of empire, let me tell you all a story. Having grown up in a Muslim state where power is controlled by a single family that can override the will of the elected parliament (elected, mind you, by a minute fraction of the population), I saw the difficulties but also the myriad of benefits that such a system offers.

True separation of the Christian church and state has been the primary benefit. There has never been any doubt that the will of the government and the will of Christ and the church were separate and distinct. Despite the friendly relationships between the two; from the original treatment of the Emir’s daughter by the medical mission to the police protection of church properties after bomb threats, there is still a very distinct line drawn. The state is the state, the church is the church, and while occasionally they may share a persepective in common it is far from assumed.

This separation manifests itself in three major areas: legality, identity and community. Identity and community are closely related; since the primary thing in common by the dozens of language groups and hundreds of nationalities and culture is their faith, the church community is primary focused around the shared identity in Christ, not around a shared culture, denomination, language or nationality. In fact these other sources of identity, if held above identity in Christ, are a source of strife in the church. Therefore I was constantly grateful for the united church leadership; the pastors and elders, of whom there was rarely more than 2 of the same denomination, and 3 from the same nation.

Legality is a different issue, and one that really took two forms. The first was a sense of minor importance that was the general culture in the country; laws were recommendations until enforced by your community. Those at the bottom of the social classes (especially men and women from the subcontinental regions and east Asia) bore the brunt of injustice, and the lax enforcement upon whites and Arabs made striking impressions. Secondly, the existence of laws that, amongst other things banned proselytizing and discouraged conversion amongst natives made it clear that, while respect for the laws needed some place in church life, no one felt obligated to obey unjust or unbiblical laws. Some members of the church had been expelled from Saudi Arabia for just that; others were persecuted by their own friends and family upon conversion.

In every step, the distinction between what is the state and what is the church was made clear, and the church was free to react accordingly. When the state fails to provide care for the hundreds of maids illegally employed, abused, unpaid, and often fleeing their employers the church stepped up. When the corrupt work camps in the desert separated the plight of the workers from all view, the church saw it as they went out to where the camps were and ministered.

The church was and is far from perfect there, and there are many lost opportunities and some compromises but the larger theme has always been that the church exists to be the church, and is to in no way rely upon the state to perform its duties, or to abdicate them in favour of a state that holds a very different goal in mind.

Author Bio:: Jordan Peacock lives and works in Minnesota with his beautiful wife and daughter. When not playing with technology or music, he’s writing comic books and wrapping up a university education.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Why I’m Thankful for living under a Nepotist Regime”

  1. Joel on January 26th, 2008 5:09 pm

    I have often thought that we in America are Gods most spoiled and rotten children. We have it too good. We waste our time and energy bickering about the smallest things.

  2. Jason Barr on January 26th, 2008 8:36 pm

    There’s a legend that, while the armies of Mahomet II were preparing to enter Constantinople that Christian theologians spent their time debating questions such as “what color eyes had the Virgin Mary?” and “if a fly falls into holy water, is the water defiled or the fly sanctified?”. Such questions can only be contemplated when the church is fat and happy, enjoying an advantageous relationship with the ruling powers rather than being a subversive entity that follows the footsteps of Jesus who did not cavort with power but was crucified by it.

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