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Ideological blindness (following the Jesus that we want to)…

January 25, 2009

The alternate title for this blogpost:  Is Jesus liberal or conservative politically?  The sub-question is this.  If we claim to believe in Jesus and to be one of his followers, how will we live in this world?  How will we treat people?  How will we view and use the natural resources of creation?  As an experiment, I am going to pull some texts out of the gospel of Matthew.  I wonder how these texts apply to my living in this world.  If we believe that Jesus is God incarnate….  If we claim to be his followers how will we live and speak about faith in this world that is yet unhearing?

Matt 3:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Matt 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Matt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Matt 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Matt 5:22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.

Matt 5:38 “You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer.

Matt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

Here is my question.  What are the implications of these words–these teachings of Jesus?  Are they to be applied to life in this world?  If we claim to be followers of Jesus then it seems that we have to give weight to the words of the one we claim to follow.

Here is another question.  These words seem to have implications for our politics in this world.  Unless!  We just make Jesus about coming to earth to die on a cross, so that we can be saved and go to heaven when we die.  If that is all salvation is about–the gospel of sin-management (as Dallas Willard puts it), then let’s not even struggle with ethics.  Following Jesus has nothing to do with loving enemies, working for justice that liberates all people–especially the poor and oppressed (Luke 4).

Luke 4.  Now there is a manifesto for our consideration.  I’ll stop.  I’m not in a good frame of mind to give this thoughtful, measured treatment.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2009 8:50 pm

    “Unless! We just make Jesus about coming to earth to die on a cross, so that we can be saved and go to heaven when we die.” A sad commentary, indeed.

    This is one place the separation of spirit and matter takes us. It creates in people’s minds the necessity of eternal security. Probably supports a prosperity gospel. It makes mission all about saving souls — no matter the desperate situation the person is living in physically. It’s the “magic-word” Christianity that doesn’t care how you live, just that you say the right things at the right time (like when you accept Christ). It’s the foundation of a personal/private salvation, oblivious of the other or the need for the Body. Ironically, in many instances, it makes social justice “not our responsibility” (yet most Christians of this type probably wouldn’t want it to be the responsibility of the government either). The sermon on the mount . . . well, is it irrelevant???

    So what does the word “incarnate” really mean in the mind of a Christian who subscribes to the gospel of sin-management?

  2. January 25, 2009 10:56 pm

    …especially the poor and oppressed to be sure. Our concern for humanity must extend from the womb to the tomb, I believe. So it makes us uneasy on either side, here, politically, at least for me.

    Though frankly I prefer the Democratic side over the Republican, overall, when thinking through Jesus’ teachings, it’s not like either side of those in power are without a major problem.

    It is so hard to navigate things for me, one who is largely or at least significantly Anabaptist in my own theological understanding.

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