Harvey Cox argues that modern religion was born when “God the maker of heaven and earth, became the deity of religion, approached through what came to be called religious experiences.” Then, “a faith which had once proclaimed a Lord who lifted up and cast down emperors, who condemned extortion and profit gouging, was now reduced to being concerned exclusively with the inner spirit or at most with frictions between individuals.”
The kingdom of God is not confined to the inner life of Christians, nor to relationships, nor to the family, but God rules over all realms of human knowledge, all realms of life, all things! His kingdom embraces all.
The church is the center of the kingdom, but the kingdom embraces all of life. Christ is lord of all. All means everything and every one. He doesn't simply rule over the church or religious individuals. The entire universe is a Christocracy. He's the rightful Lord that deserves the allegiance of individuals, families, presidents, kings, and countries.
This is a vision that once integrated and fueled our educational institutions in the West. This is a vision that once, when proclaimed from the puplits, called for absolute submission from men and women in every station of life. We owe fealty to our soveriegn king, the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus.
This is a vision that once dominated the worship and prayers of the church and that God used to transform human culture.
Do you want to know what one of the most bizarre (from our point of view) facts about the content of the early post-apostolic church liturgies and prayers is? When churches . . .
. . . possessed nothing
. . . had no political power, nor representation
. . . were relatively poor
. . . met in secret for fear of the wrath of earthly authorities
One of the most amazing facts of history is that the prayers and liturgical texts of the early church . . .
. . . contain no complaints about their suffering,
. . . give almost no evidence of persecution,
. . . express no desire for escape from the world,
. . . do not whine about the church's conflicts and isolation and sufferings!
Rather, they pray that the world might become what it is under the new Lord Jesus. The worship of the early church although simple was much more majestic and triumphal than later Medieval worship. It was broader in its scope and inspiration. The prayers of the church resound with cosmic thanksgiving and embrace in its vision the whole of Creation, the whole of history. They span the entire spectrum of life and existence. Christ reigns over all, so the church saw herself at the very center of the world. She confessed herself absolutely necessarly for the life of the world. She was the royal queen at the Son's right hand. She was his chief and most respected adviser. She was a congregation of priests serving the entire cosmos.
We must recover that vision. We must appreciate the fact that God rules the world through the church, that the world belongs to Jesus and his church - all things belong to Jesus and to his Bride, the Queen. The scope of our prayers ought to be universal, comprehensive - as far as the curse is found.