Blogging Towards Sunday
This week's portion of the Sermon on the Mount is all about practicing what Jesus preaches. It's about doors and roads, city gates and wolves in sheep clothing, good fruit and rotting messes. Traditionally I've heard that this passage is articulating the need and challenge of salvation, that few will know God's heart and choose Jesus as Savior. I think it's much deeper, tricker and stickier than that boundary-enducing evangelical language would lead us to believe. I think Jesus is talking about the city gates through which you have to enter in order to move from not being in the city, to being in the city. Jesus lived in Roman times. The Empire was know for its power, profits and pax (peace). The Romans built roads everywhere, and new cities surrounded with protective walls. It's what made the empire work and be so profitable. When you traveled into or from a city, you couldn't help but remember what Empire you lived in. Everywhere you turned you saw signs and symbols of the Romans' militry might and economic power (or oppression, depending upon your place in society). Jesus is challenging that, saying that we're called to live in and from the Kingdom of God. A hard choice. An existential choice that has to be made personally and lived out communally. A choice that implies an alternative identity, a counter-cultural daily life, a radical inter-dependence, a new passport. That's what's hard about it, not that few are saved. Rather it's that few want to make that difficult yet life-transforming and sustaining choice to follow Jesus, which necessarily implies producing good fruit through living as Jesus lived.
In our age today I wonder how often we actually hear about this? A friend sent me a blog [link] that talks a bit about this in terms of Proposition 8 that passed in yesterday's election. It doesn't matter so much what you thought about the proposition, I include the link because it's a challenge to all those who claim to follow Jesus. Who are we following - the empire o? How are we following - as radicals or as ordinaries? Are we being genuinely honest about it?
Here's 3 relevant pages from Jesus for President (pp 242-244). Click on the images to read them in a larger format.