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Communities of resistence…

November 5, 2007

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I heard a statement recently that is making my reading of Scripture sizzle.  From Genesis to Revelation the predominant theme is of God acting within history–using a marginal people, a community of resistance against the backdrop of Empire.  Empires promise the good life–and a minority achieve it.  But at what cost?  For others Empire means domination, exploitation, marginalization….

God is not the God of Empire, rather he is the God who calls a people to live in an alternative story (the message of the Kingdom) amidst the destructive narrative of Empire.

 Egyptian Empire — Joseph…Moses

 Babylonian Empire — Israel as exiles

Greek Empire —

 Roman Empire — Jesus, Paul, the early church

Western Civilization (Spain, Great Britain, America)

The question that is raised is this:  How have the main religions become co-opted by the Empire system? 

I didn’t plan to be a part of Empire.  My life is impacted by the fact that I live embedded in a system and narrative that challenges the message of the Kingdom of God.  I am embedded in a system that is a global military and economic power.  The ways of empire, the values of empire are at odds with the way of Jesus and the message of the Kingdom of God.  So how does salvation come to my house?

Preaching from the lectionary texts yesterday for Peace Sunday, I was struck by this theme in the story of Zacchaeus.  A conversion story about  a Jewish man who had be caught up in the values of the Roman Empire.  A conversion story that called one who had found a comfortable niche within the Empire system–a wealthy niche.  Jesus called Zacchaeus down out of the tree and invited himself to his bourgeoisie home.

How then shall we live as a community of the Kingdom–a community of resistence that does not just become a chaplain to the system? 

How does the missional order conversation fit into this?

The cross (a political instrument) is the way Empire deals with subversives.  What was Jesus saying when he said that if anyone wants to follow him, he/she must take up their cross?

God called exilic Israel to invest in and be a blessing within the Babylon context.  Joseph was a blessing with the Egyptian Empire.  How then can we make a healthy contribution within the Empire–and not get scripted by the values of Empire which are not the values of the Kingdom of God?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dawn permalink
    November 6, 2007 3:44 am

    It is funny you use the term, “resistance.” Years ago, around the time I first started teaching, a series of children’s book came out which I loved:

    Tales of the Kingdom
    Tales of the Resistance
    Tales of the Restoration

    I think I have the titles right. I had lost my personal copy of the second one and just noticed it in our church’s library on Sunday and thought I wanted to take them out to re-read.

    What I loved about the books is that they focused on the “kingdom resistance” as something happening in the reality of the here and now. . . not something only “happening in the spiritual realm and then we’ll see it at reckoning day.” They are allegorical, as my memory recalls, but also included a very human element.

    I remember they gave me hope and excitement as I read them. They inspired me to see the “resistance,” as you say, as something we need to actively be a part of . . . not a political agenda, but rather a daily-living, radical call to live the Jesus-way. I look forward to reading them with my children.

  2. November 6, 2007 3:25 pm

    great post…hard questions!

    Is it possible that the seeds for a subversive community come, not from doing more – which seems to be a value of empire – but by doing less?

    When the salvation of Jesus comes to my house, the lifestyle of consumption is overturned and replaced by the lifestyle of generosity and hospitality – two expressions of salvation in Zach’s home!

    Simple living, which is a part of an Anabaptist/Mennonite heritage, may contains the seeds to subversion after the way of Jesus…

    Thanks for getting me thinking…

    Live Shalom!

  3. November 7, 2007 3:25 pm

    These are great thoughts Brian. As I walk out this new kingdom, I am struck with how subversive it is to the empire.

    The kingdom is counter-cultural. I think it exposes me at times. It exposes my fear of man and calls me out. It challenges me to consider, am I choosing the way of God or the way of the empire.

    Thanks.

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