Blogging toward Sunday

November 19, 2007

The two aspirants to the governor’s mansion in my state ran a race that
often sounded more like an old-fashioned prayer meeting than a
political campaign. Both seem convinced that the key to victory lay in
demonstrating that one was more Christian than the other. As a result,
we were blessed by an outpouring of political ads that were more
hagiographical than enlightening, more testimony than serious political
discourse.

What might have happened if our two candidates had taken seriously the rule of God made known in a crucified Jesus?

For
that matter, what would happen if we were to do the same? What if we
were to turn our attention to what John Howard Yoder referred to as
“the politics of Jesus”?

Luke testifies—how’s that for a
campaign ad?—that after Jesus was thoroughly humiliated, he was hung on
a cross alongside two convicted criminals. One of the criminals called
for him to show his messianic authority by a display of saving power
that would work for all three of them. But the other criminal turned to
Jesus and cried out for mercy, “Jesus, remember me when you come into
your kingdom!”

We remember and hope, through the Word and the
Eucharist, that because Jesus did not save himself, he is able to save
others, including us, in the larger sweep of God’s purpose to redeem
and perfect the whole creation. Through the testimony of Luke’s Gospel
we see, know and participate in the rule of God through the presence of
the Spirit indwelling the church.

Recently I have doing a lot of
talking with my students about the relationship between means and ends
in ministry. Some of them notice that the widespread use of pragmatic
means in the church leaves much to be desired—that we can be like
politicians trying to dress up campaigns with “a little Jesus.” I talk
with them about the end, the final goal and destiny of all things under
the Lordship of Christ, who rules from a cross, and whose rule works
through the power and wisdom of the cross.

Without a final
destiny and conclusion, everything is simply up for grabs. Whoever has
the slickest campaign ads, the most effective marketing strategy, and
the longest donor list gets to determine the agenda—even for the
church. What if the way is as Yoder concludes:

[It]
does not mean renouncing effectiveness … It means that in Jesus we have
a clue to which kinds of causation, which kinds of community building,
which kinds of conflict management, go with the grain of the cosmos, of
which we know, as Caesar does not, that Jesus is both the Word (the
inner logic of things) and the Lord (sitting at the right hand) that
leads to the end is congruent with the One who is himself the End.”

What if the way is simply: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”?

Comments

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Hi:

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I am hoping this doesn't get posted in a bad place. Please forgive my offence if this is inappropriate.

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