Wednesday

a church disarmed | struggling toward love


"You're overreacting." "That's quite a claim. Prove it."

Perhaps invalidating others' experiences is to be expected of a callous world, but what happened to Christians lighting the darkness and standing up for the vulnerable?

When hurting people share their stories, if our first instinct is to dismiss their perspective and defend the powerful or status quo, something is terribly wrong.
  • We have a black president now. Accusations of systemic racism are a bit extreme, don't you think?
  • Lots of kids get bullied. This is really about pushing the gay agenda in our schools.
Such responses do not resemble a gospel that releases captives or lifts the humble. Doubting and silencing the voices of people who are hurting does not honor Jesus.

People do not share painful stories to provoke disunity or wage gender/race/culture war, as critics in positions of privilege often claim, but maintaining that is a surefire way to shut down conversation.

Admittedly, war rhetoric is overused and largely unhelpful in such a polarizing climate, but nevertheless, a battle is raging:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Blind insistence from the powerful that "Everything's fine" does not make it so.  This struggle is real, and the question is, will we side with worldly power or battle-bruised hearts?

In the passion drama of Christ the principalities of political, economic, and religious power were on full display...Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphus perceived in Jesus of Nazareth a threat to the existing arrangement, a challenge to the status quo of a world organized around an axis of political, economic, and religious power....The principalities and powers opposed the one who claimed to be the anointed Messiah--by murdering him!--because they had a correct instinct that Israel's Messiah posed a real threat to the way the world had always been arranged.  Jesus himself had said that in the kingdom he was bringing, "many who are first will be last and the last will be first."  So all of these men, representing the principalities and powers of the age, conspired in the execution of Jesus of Nazareth because he posed a threat to "the system." (Beauty Will Save the World)

The forces at work in the world found themselves at odds with the redemptive mission of Jesus, so they put him to death. The same systemic sin is still at play, but one major thing has changed:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The grave could not swallow God's Anointed One. Jesus proved himself--and his way--to be stronger than sin and every kind of oppression. 

Seen through the lens of resurrection, the cross is no longer the shameful public humiliation of Christ, but the shameful public humiliation of the principalities and powers!  In the light of the death and resurrection of Christ, principalities and powers arranged around an axis of power can no longer claim to be good and just--their claim has been invalidated by the cross...In the new world order arranged around an axis of love, the government of Messiah's peace begins to take hold... 
When the church actually lives as a peaceable kingdom of Christ, it is a demonstration of the wisdom of God to the principalities and powers.  Furthermore, it's the ultimate demonstration that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not!  This is why peace and unity within the body of Christ must be regarded as absolutely sacred.  If we are not a peaceable people, we impugn the credibility of the gospel of peace.  (Beauty Will Save the World)

Peace is not found on the altar of power but the way the cross.  

Christians like to tell others (especially those with less power) to deny themselves, submit, and be humble and gracious, but don't we throw fits at the mildest slight? We're quick to claim that our rights are being trampled while purposefully distancing ourselves from injustice suffered by others, even those in our midst. (Staying "impartial" about abuse and putting "unity" above justice is not "thinking biblically" but siding with abusers.)

Can we please stop grasping at worldly power and faux grace long enough to love those who are hurting?

We don't have to agree to begin listening to each other's stories. The empty tomb proved that we can experience reconciliation this side of eternity. The world's broken ways are not inevitable, love is stronger than death, and it never fails.

If we imagined another way, could we set our hearts toward it? Could a Church divorced from power become that city on a hill, which lights the darkness and draws new worshipers to God?

A skeptical world might find a disarmed Church to be disarming.



sharing with emily and the imperfect prose community

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