Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blogging Towards Sunday
September 14, 2008
Jesus for President
"Who needs lipstick? We have Salt, Light & Mustard!"
Matthew 5:13-16, Matthew 13:3-8 & Matthew 13:18-21

Political talk this past week has been about lipstick: who needs it, who doesn't, what it hides and what it marks. I find myself disappointed, nearly depressed to hear that in our political dialogue it's nearly all reduced to a cult of personality cultivated through negative attacks of opponents as opposed to asserting how we might move forward, a thoughtful analysis of how we're stuck and the fear of the rapidly changing world we live in (social mores, economic forces, cultural competency and technological transformations in communication), a fear which seems to motivate so much of human nature to choose to fight (with verbal violence more than creative adaptation) or flight (back to the supposed "better" world of the 1950s).

I'm struck by the words of Jesus in the passage today.  Last week's selection Matthew 5:1-12 is the vision that Jesus has for how the world will become through the revolution he proposes.  Today's selection Matthe 5:13-16 is a policy summary of how he proposes to get there.  He then spells out the specifics of his political policy in the rest of the sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17-7:29.  Instead of being a cult of personality about who is a real reformer and outsider who can bring needed transformation, Jesus spells out what it will lead to, how to do it and then calls people to get it in gear and get with it.  He affirms that those who follow him are called to be active agents of change, revolutionaries, ordinary radicals: light, salt, mustard and yeast - who will  change the world through day to day living.  The best description I've heard of Jesus' vision (the Kingdom of God and how to get there) comes from  Jesus for President I've inserted scanned pages of 102-105 below that say it well.  Click on the photo to make it larger and easier to read.

We're called to be like mustard seeds: to live as Jesus lived: being potent agents of power that doesn't destroy opponents but overwhelms with flavor.  We're called to be healers, living Vicks Vapor Rubs of mustard seeds in a broken world.  We're called to be ordinary shrubs that invade the garden subverting it and it's purpose.  How often is worship about that?  More often than not (even the worship I lead) is about talking about an orderly God, who is decent and in order, who wants us to not use styrofoam cups at coffee hour and to collect money to support far away kingdom workers (aka missionaries).  Yet Jesus is about revolution, living not to save the church or maintain our traditions but to live radically for a radical word:  Jesus only saves!  And because he has saved us everything is different.  Isn't such a word of change of hope of reform the breath of fresh air that we sense (depending upon our perspective) in a community organizer from Chicago or a Hockey Mom Governor from Alaska.  Jesus in the end is the real deal.  He's neither arugula nor moose meat.  He's salt, light, yeast and mustard!

No comments: