Communities of resistence…
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?