This week, we’re discussing Luther’s understanding of the Two Kingdoms. This is the idea that God is the Sovereign King and Ruler of all creation, both heaven and earth.
As Christians, we are citizens of both kingdoms and believe that God is the Ruler of both his spiritual kingdom, which we experience in his church, and his earthly kingdom, which we experience in the secular world.
But we also believe that the way God demonstrates his authority over these two kingdoms is very different.
He rules his earthly kingdom through the vocations of those who are positions of secular power. In other words, those who make and enforce our laws; Mayors, Governors, Representatives, Law Enforcement, and our Justice System.
Or as Luther put it back in his day, God works through these earthly authorities to rule his earthly kingdom with the sword. That is, he maintains public safety through the means of force.
By contrast, God rules his spiritual kingdom in a very different way. He rules, not by power and force, but rather by love; the gracious and sacrificial love which Christ demonstrated for us on the cross.
And so as Christians, we live with one foot in each of these two kingdoms. We recognize that in the earthly kingdom we are subject to our earthly rulers and their authority, while in the spiritual kingdom we are subject to Christ and his command to take up our own cross and follow him.