Saturday, November 28, 2009

I do not think that means what you think it means

The kingdom of heaven. What is it? And how does it work? Is it democratic? Is it theocratic? Is it communism or socialism? Is it a monarchy? How does it operate? What is its power structure?

Jesus said (Luke 22:25ff) "The kings of the gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves . . . But I am among you as one who serves."

I think Jesus is saying something here that is very specific and very direct. The power systems of this world (government, religious, business, etc.) exercise authority from above as "lords". And the virtuous amongst these "lords" call themselves "benefactors" (one who gives aid, support or help, especially financially).

Jesus specifically says, "you are not to be like that". What did Jesus mean? Is he saying that any authority that exercises power over someone from above is not of his kingdom? Is his assertion that he is amongst us as one who serves an endorsement of exercising power from beneath, from a place of weakness? As a servant?

What does this teaching have to say in the discussion of using military force to rid the world of evil? What does this teaching have to say about the moral majorities agenda to pass laws legislating behavior (ban on homosexual marriage, overturning roe vs. wade)?

What does Jesus mean when he says we are not to use power and authority as the world uses it - instead we are to serve?

Just some stuff we should talk about.

1 comment:

  1. So, there's a little kid, the epitome of weakness. He's small for his age, his clothes don't fit right, he wears glasses, he has a stutter and a lisp, and he even carries an inhaler. You know who I'm talking about, the stereotypical nerd. And every day before school he was cornered by the school bully, he was pushed around, had his books knocked out of his hands, his homework dumped in the garbage or a mud puddle. He was pantsed, or given a wedgie. And in the end he would succumb to the ritualistic violence at the hands of a kid who was ignorant to difference. This boy hated the bully, hated himself and every student who had ever walked by and not said "stop". So much hate. One day that kid comes to school with a gun. And unloads 2 or 3 or 5 clips on unsuspecting students before taking his own life. Or. One day you happen across the morning routine and you say what no one else dared to say. Either because they were too scared to step in and maybe become a target or because they just couldn't be bothered. Whatever the reason, the abuse continued. So there you are, not as big as the bully but certainly bigger than the boy and you clear your throat and step forward and call out, "Hey, c'mon man. Leave 'im alone." The silence that ensues is deafening. And you wait for the proverbial axe to fall. Time seems to be standing still and racing at the same time. Maybe you are hit by the sensation of vertigo, which way is up? And slowly, the bully turns, facing you with his wrath. What now? The bully advances a step in your direction giving the boy a chance to get away. But instead of running he stays. And you wonder not for the last time, “What did I get myself into?” Now the bully is pissed. You just made an enemy. But, you also just made a friend. In a perfect world, you probably talked to the bully and made him realize his mistakes, and he apologized for all his errors. All three of you shook hands and became best friends. Too bad this isn’t a perfect world. War is similar, to an extent. Any time someone is trying to overpower someone smaller somebody should step in and say, “Look, that’s just not a good idea.” But we’re going about it all wrong. I know in the Bible it’s referenced in more than one place, “An eye for an eye.” But I also know it says if you are slapped on one cheek to present the other to your attacker. So, there are always conflicting opinions or questionable responses. If the U.S went to war just as the protector, not as the manipulator, or the country looking to make a profit, or get something out of the deal…war is justified. But the way we do it, out for ourselves and no one else, it’s wrong. The end doesn’t justify the means. Kill one man, save a thousand? Who has that power to make that decision? Who would want the power to make that decision? The world has several justice systems; they are different from state to state and country to country. So are beliefs and morals and values, cultures, traditions…in fact the only consistency in this whole world, is the complete variance between people. That is what makes our world so great. God has been around for…well…forever. Adam and Eve, communicated with him, they started a world, a spiritual society. Ignorance is bliss. They ate the fruit of knowledge. Gone was the bliss. Spirituality gave way to religion. All these ideals, of discipline and power and Godliness. And we were so far removed from our Father, that we lost sight of His true intentions. Love Him. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. And when it didn’t seem to be getting better for us he tried a different tact. He had a son. He put himself on our level. He tried to unlearn all our bad behaviors and show us the path of light and love. So, we killed him. But, as he is God, He returned. And he forgave…everybody. From those friends that betrayed Him to the enemies that crucified Him. He forgave us all. He was so all knowing and all loving, that He has already forgiven tomorrow’s murderers and next generations rapists. But for the grace of God.