Jesus In Politically Troubled Times
The third chapter of Gregory Boyd’s challenging book The Myth of a Christian Nation begins with a quote from Dietrich Bonheoffer, “Jesus concerns himself hardly at all with the solution of worldly problems… His word is not an answer to human questions and problems; it is the answer of God to the question of God to man. His word is… not a solution, but a redemption.”
In this chapter, Boyd builds on his overall theme that the kingdom or system of this world is in direct opposition and purpose of the Kingdom of God. Boyd makes the point that if we are to call ourselves Christian than we should live and love as Jesus did. We don’t do this when covenant or when it is to our own advantage to live as Jesus did and calls us to live. We are to express and extend the same kind of love that Jesus showed in his life, death, and resurrection. Boyd defines a Christian as one who bares “the distinctive mark of one that aspires to think, feel, and act like Christ. Indeed, since Jesus is the incarnation of God, a Christian is one who, by definition, imitates God.”
Many so-called Christians don’t act like Jesus did or as God would have us act. They are overly concerned about keeping their wealth intact and repelling healthcare reform. They are more worried about right belief than right behavior. There’s a picture floating around on Facebook that has Jesus gathered around a group of followers giving them the commandment to love others as he has loved them. They say, “But what about…” and Jesus answers bluntly with, Did I stutter? Jesus says love, love everyone. He never gave us a list or criteria of who we are to love, other than saying love as I have loved you. There is no way of getting around that. A Christian should be known for love, for loving others not for what they are against.
Boyd writes, “Only when every knee and every tongue confesses the loving lordship of Christ; only when Christ has transformed our hearts into his likeness, and only when everything in heaven and on earth has been purged by the fire of God’s loving judgment will the fundamental problems of the world be eradicated. And the only way to move toward this goal is for Kingdom-of-God citizens to exercise “power under” rather than “power over.” It happens only as the mustard seed of the Kingdom of God grows through individual and corporate replications of Calvary.”
Boyd goes on to make the point that Jesus didn’t come to answer the world’s many problems or usher in a new and improved version of the world’s system. “His agenda was far more radical, for he came to redeem the world and ultimately overthrow the kingdom of the world by ushering in an alternative kingdom. He came not to give solutions, tweak external regulations, and enforce better behavior. He rather came to transform lives from the inside out winning people over to the reign of God’s sovereign love, rendering the “power over” tactics of the kingdom of the world unnecessary.”
The mission that Jesus has given to His followers is to embody the new way of life to live in the Kingdom of God now in this world. The Kingdom of God is not some far off place, but is here now. To love in the face of hate, bring pardon to injury, faith to doubt, hope to despair, light to darkness, and joy to sadness. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, to be the body of Christ for a world that sorely needs more of the love and grace of God found in Jesus Christ. The world doesn’t need to know what we personally find wrong, but to see what a life centered on God as the source of one’s security, worth, and significance looks like. The world needs to see what life lived free from fear and in service to others looks like. When people see Christ manifested in us, they will see the good news imprinted on our words, actions, and attitude.
In the words of Andre Trocme, “Jesus came to bring a revolution, one that would impact every sphere of existence, including social and power relations… He did not want to reform political structures but wanted everything to come under God’s rulership.”
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