But there are dangers in getting too much mileage out of this rebel talk. Sure, Jesus was a rebel. Yes, Christianity is subversive. But that should not be the end goal of our faith. We shouldn’t be enlisting young hipsters to join the cause because they think Jesus is a Che Guevara-esque revolutionary. They should be joining the cause because they need God’s grace, not because they want to take down some system or join some romantic revolutionary cause. A faith built upon rebellion is, at the end of the day, not going to be very sustainable. We can’t be a church primarily organized around fighting against things.
This is an idea that Donald Miller expressed in an article in the New York Times: that we have to be devoted followers of Christ first, and “rebels” second:
If you’re a Christian, you need to obey God. And if you obey God, you’re going to be seen as a rebel, both within American church culture and popular culture. But that’s not the point. The point is to obey God.
Indeed, of all the marketing tactics wannabe hip churches might be engaged in, “Jesus was a rebel” is one of the more legitimate, but it also can backfire in the worst ways. Churches that focus too much on “Hey! The gospel is subversive!” may undercut the fact that the gospel is the gospel. It is the Good News—the best news—for the world, significant and life-changing in a way that mere “subversion” could never be.
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” ~ John 3:16 AMP ~
If Jesus did not preach celibacy, there is no reason to suppose he practiced it. According to Judaic custom at the time it was not only customary, but almost mandatory, that a man be married. Except among certain Essenes in certain communities, celibacy was vigorously condemned! Were Jesus not married, this fact would have been glaringly conspicuous, drawing attention to him, and been used to characterize and identify him. It would have set him apart in some significant sense from his contemporaries.
This article is an interesting and thought-provoking read, although I disagree that Jesus’ celibacy isn’t ‘glaringly conspicuous.’ From His very first encounters with religious leaders they were aggressively prejudiced against Him…maybe His celibacy was part of the reason why?
I think what discomfits so many people about the idea of Jesus being married is
1. It challenges the synoptic gospels’ version of events and by extension the whole Bible.
2. His sexuality taints His altruism (a legacy of the RCC, ironically enough.)
3. It raises the question of descendants because if Jesus was married then He almost certainly had children.
On the one hand we have this scratch of papyrus referencing a wife (could it be a metaphor?) and the mountain of cultural norms at that time; and on the other we have what we know about Jesus as a firestarter of the unconventional, and the increasingly shady body of religious writings post-second century.
I don’t personally believe that Jesus was married, and if convincing evidence surfaced that he was, I’d have real trouble integrating that into my belief system. But on the flipside I think we underestimate the man Jesus in favour of the God Jesus. If it comes to it, His being married wouldn’t change His salvific work.
So what do you say? Would Jesus’ marital status significantly alter your faith or relationship with Him?
The Devil only has power in this world.
Never forget that.
He can’t stop God from loving you.
And when this world ends…
You go home.
And he’s left, out in the cold.
– – – – –
So don’t be afraid.
He will tempt you, trip you up and try to drag you down to Hell.
Tell him to be gone.
He’s from this world.
You are not.
– – – – –
“In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16.33)
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15.19)
The cover of Newsweek caught my eye. Pretty hard not to. Hipster Jesus — some didn’t like it. But like the New Statesman cover, it grabbed my attention because it takes Jesus out of Palestine circa 2000 years ago, and puts Him right smack in 2012. Christianity as a religion is in decline because people are mistaking the church for Jesus, Who is ominously missing from His own Body. But there is more to religion than the church, with all its victories and failings. There’s Jesus.
While I don’t agree with everything Andrew Sullivan says, I did like this:
To reduce one’s life to essentials, to ask merely for daily bread, forgiveness of others, and denial of self is, in many ways, a form of madness. It is also a form of liberation.
Also this, which connects to my previous post:
There are times when great injustices—slavery, imperialism, totalitarianism, segregation—require spiritual mobilization and public witness. But from Gandhi to King, the greatest examples of these movements renounce power as well. They embrace nonviolence as a moral example, and that paradox changes the world more than politics or violence ever can or will.
I have no concrete idea how Christianity will wrestle free of its current crisis, of its distractions and temptations, and above all its enmeshment with the things of this world. But I do know it won’t happen by even more furious denunciations of others, by focusing on politics rather than prayer, by concerning ourselves with the sex lives and heretical thoughts of others rather than with the constant struggle to liberate ourselves from what keeps us from God. What Jefferson saw in Jesus of Nazareth was utterly compatible with reason and with the future; what Saint Francis trusted in was the simple, terrifying love of God for Creation itself. That never ends.
This Christianity comes not from the head or the gut, but from the soul. It is as meek as it is quietly liberating. It does not seize the moment; it lets it be. It doesn’t seek worldly recognition, or success, and it flees from power and wealth. It is the religion of unachievement. And it is not afraid. In the anxious, crammed lives of our modern twittering souls, in the materialist obsessions we cling to for security in recession, in a world where sectarian extremism threatens to unleash mass destruction, this sheer Christianity, seeking truth without the expectation of resolution, simply living each day doing what we can to fulfill God’s will, is more vital than ever. It may, in fact, be the only spiritual transformation that can in the end transcend the nagging emptiness of our late-capitalist lives, or the cult of distracting contemporaneity, or the threat of apocalyptic war where Jesus once walked. (Emphasis mine.)
I’m not saying we should abandon the church, but we shouldn’t follow it instead of Jesus.
“…anyone who holds onto his life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” (John 12:25)
Blessed, recklessly loving Easter, everybody :)
I came across this while reading up about St Francis of Assisi. Usually when we think about vows we think silence, monks, stone buildings (or at least I do). But we don’t need to be cloistered to take a vow. Vows like the one below are probably more valuable out in daily life, anyway. It’s a vow of non-violence. And before you get an image of Gandhi in your head and think, Gee, no thanks, read through it. It will make you rethink your definition of violence.
Recognising the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the non-violence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God… You have learned how it was said, You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.’
Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus:
- by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
- by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
- by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
- by persevering in non-violence of tongue and heart;
- by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
- by actively resisting evil and working non-violently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.
God, I trust in your sustaining love and believe that just as you give me the grace and desire to offer this, so you will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.
(The above vow was provided by Pax Christi USA.)
The book I read recommends you take the vow for a specific period of time, like a year. But maybe that seems, well, hard. I know the “persevering in non-violence of heart and tongue” gave me pause. So why not try it out for the rest of this week? As we head to Easter, we’re confronted with the violent humiliation Christ suffered…and how His sacrifice changed everything. Maybe this week sacrificing that witty but hurtful retort, or that trolling comment on a blog, or the impatience in a supermarket line or traffic jam, could make a difference.
“to pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you.” –Theopan
When the focus of the church is on its own maintenance, rather than on living according to the values of the kingdom, it is unable to foster genuine community within its own ranks or engage in ministry to others. Such churches become self-defensive, safe, cultural “holy clubs” rather than engaging in demanding, loving and risky ministry. The church becomes a social club, promoting “get togethers”, where members talk only to each other, not caring for strangers, sinners, or those in need.
— Ethics and Spirituality by L Kretzschmar.
Jesus was not a fan of the comfort zone. At one point He said, “I’ve come to disrupt and confront!” An idea foreign to most Christians today. Most Christians today have an “us” mentality, which is ironic considering that Jesus spent so much time with “them”: the sinners, losers and weirdos.
So how do we shake off the bake sale committees and return to ‘risky ministry’?