Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Lent 2020: What's in It for Us?

There's a certain contingent of Christianity that would probably be happy turning the government into a theocracy. Evangelical preachers in particular are always talking about how we need to have Godly leaders making Godly laws -- which, of course, usually amounts to opposing abortion and homosexuality, sending immigrants away, promoting war and glorifying military power, getting "tough" on crime, supporting capital punishment, and any number of other things that reflect the angry tribal God of the Old Testament more than they do the reconciling, enemy-loving Jesus of the New Testament.

But here's the important point: If you think being a good Christian has anything at all to do with power, you're missing the point. If those in positions of power enact good policy that helps those in need, all the better -- but it's not the goal of the Christian life. As Jesus reminds us in today's reading from Matthew, he came not to lord himself over others but to be their servant -- to humble himself, not to aggrandize himself with power and majesty.

Just after Jesus tells his disciples that his fate is to die soon in Jerusalem, once again disabusing them of the notion of a prophesied Messiah who would come to avenge them against their political oppressors, the mother of James and John comes along and asks if Jesus will grant them the privilege of sitting at his right and left hands in his kingdom.

Jesus must have been left wondering whether everything he said went in one ear and out the other. He announces that he's going to be killed, and the only thing the disciples are worried about is jockeying for power?

"You don't know what you're asking," Jesus tells them, before a squabble breaks out among all the disciples. It appears that they still don't get the upside-down values of the Kingdom of God, where the last will be first and the first will be last. "Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant," he reminds them, "and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave."

Jesus tells us that his kingdom is not of this world. It is a kingdom we build in our hearts when we follow in his ways and do the will of God -- when we come to serve, and not to rule.

No comments:

Post a Comment