“Sooner or later, someone must take his courage in one hand and his Bible in the other, throw all concern regarding his own pursuits to the wind, and say what needs to be said!”
~N. T. Wright
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What needs to be said?
Mainly, what’s burning in my bones that I can’t shut up are the words of our Lord Jesus that his Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, he says, my disciples would fight. He also says we cannot serve two masters. But many Christians do. The ways and means, values and goals, of the U.S.A. are opposed to those of God’s Kingdom. We are citizens of his Kingdom. Those are our politics. We have a King and we are citizens of a Kingdom and we are subject to his law. Duel citizenship doesn’t work.
It’s like being anti-abortion and serving on the board at Planned Parenthood. It’s like wearing a fur coat with a PETA pin on it. It’s like a pulmonary doctor smoking cigarettes. The contradictions are so obvious. The duplicity is striking. But many Christians giddily embrace the politics of the Empire that’s destined to be overthrown by the Kingdom of God. They uncritically adopt and exult in the violence, the power, the fear, and the might of the Empire. It’s the very reason, as far as I see, the Church is in such rapid decline in America. By pledging the same allegiance to the Empire as they do to God’s Kingdom, Jesus’ disciples in this country are selling their souls and betraying our Lord.
And sooner or later, somebody’s going to have to say it more plainly and communicate it more clearly than I’m able to.
You are focusing on one particular master that a lot of Christians put ahead of serving God. Truth is there are many, so the problem is not the one particular master but rather the devotion to something else. When Jesus said one cannot serve two masters, he was not issuing a command but rather stating a fact. Many Christians are also more interested in making money than serving God, or more interested in promoting their own status than serving God.
How does one give up the other master. When Jesus confronted the problem his solution was give it up totally. “Go and sell all that….” He was fully aware of the difficulty of eliminating the other master. That is why he also said “It is harder for a rich man….” These are facts. The only way to get devotion to God as a master is to do it the way Jesus said. We cannot hang on to our status, our money, our patriotism, our consumerism, our addiction to pleasure and entertainment (sports?) AND serve God.
The typical Christian has not come close to experiencing what it would be like to ACTUALLY sell all and give it to the poor, for instance, to keep only what the average person in the world lives on., or to give up all entertainment and devote every available minute to God. The rich young ruler went away sad. Jesus had nothing to offer than was easier. Americans are all rich, and there will not be many rich people in heaven.
Maybe what it takes courage to say is that “according to the scripture you who are sitting here this morning have as much chance of going to heaven as a camel has of getting through the eye of a needle.” Jesus told the rich ruler, “Don’t waste my time unless you are serious.”
You’re exactly right. Thank you for those thoughts — the exegesis, the hermeneutic, and the homiletic suggestion. It is impossible to serve two masters, yet all of us live most of our lives trying.
In response to your statement: ” yet all of us live most of our lives trying.” Since the statement applies to all, then the masters must be stated in very general terms My candidates for them would be:
2) The illusion that one is not true.
As to your “most of our lives” I will submit myself as an example of someone who has given up on 2.