Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 143; 147:12-20, Ezra 1:1-11, 1 Corinthians 16:1-9, Matthew 12:15-21
It’s hardly even news any more when we discover the people who are supposed to be leading us or serving the public are not working in our best interest. The outrage we feel over scandals is less about being surprised or disappointed, and more about vindicating our suspicions about how the “other side” abuses its power.
From the personal and petty to the global and grandiose, people with power can’t seem to help abusing it and maintaining a choke hold on it. The Pharisees felt Jesus and his teachings threatened their power and they were willing to play dirty to retain it. Like the power-hungry across all times, they convinced themselves and others it was for the greater good.
It would be nice to say Christians today were not nearly as prone to conspire against Christ, but would it be true? Early Christians held beliefs that ran counter to the dominant culture. In America and large sections of the western world, Christians are the dominant culture. Because this is the case, it is easy to start assuming the things we value as a society must be Christian. We conflate value-neutral systems like capitalism and democracy, and institutions like the military and the constitution, with Christianity in a way that makes them seem like the Unified Theory of Everything Good. When Jesus gets bound up in marketing gimmicks and partisan politics and national pride, we have — intentionally or not — conspired to undermine his message. When Christians view and treat the poor as moral failures instead of fellow travelers, or encourage others to do so, we have traded Christ for comfort.
What if we could conspire on behalf of Christ? What if, instead of assuming Christ should value the same things we do, we sought to live in loving contrast to the parts of our culture — even the self-identified Christian ones — that resemble the institutions and hypocrisies he criticized? What if we did so in a way that was not about toppling the powerful, but raising the downtrodden? If we aren’t rocking the boat in radically inclusive ways, we’ll never know what it’s like to walk on water.
Comfort: The values Christ stands for are timeless…
Challenge: … so we can’t assume all his teachings were about the past.
Prayer: I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. (Psalm 116:1)
Discussion: Are there any conspiracy theories you think are true?
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