Redeeming The World The Jesus Way

Tempted to Power“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.'” ~Matthew 4:8-9

The world has been trying since day one to redeem the world. The world says if we have power we can redeem the world. We can make it better. But they can’t. For thousands of years they’ve tried. It’s one of the devil’s most effective lies: more power, more education, more wealth, more technology equals a better world. We’ll make the world a better place by imposing our knowledge and our systems on the people around us. Eugene Peterson, in his book The Jesus Way, writes:

“War has always been the classic way of choice to impose our idea of what is good on the people we don’t like or disapprove of. It still is. In the century just completed ‘all the kingdoms of the world,’ led by the most advanced kingdoms economically and educationally, outdid themselves in not getting along. The facts and statistics are indisputable: the smarter we get, the more prosperous we are, the more murderous we become.”

The world has always said ‘might makes right.’ And sometimes the Church falls into that same trap.

Every single Christian believer has an important voice and an important presence in the way this country is run and the way our culture is formed. Yes. It’s critical for the redemption of creation. The world must see us and know where we’re coming from and where we’re going. But, we are being deceived by the devil if we think for one minute we can speak in a way or act in a way other than or counter to the way Jesus spoke and acted.

And we are guilty. Contrary to the clear example of Jesus, the Church of God is guilty of seeking and exerting power.

From Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus:

“One of the greatest ironies of the history of Christianity is that its leaders constantly give in to the temptation of power — political power, military power, economic power, or moral and spiritual power — even though they continue to speak in the name of Jesus, who did not cling to his divine power but emptied himself and became as we are. We keep hearing from others, as well as saying to ourselves, that having power — provided it is used in the service of God and your fellow human beings — is a good thing. With this rationalization, crusades took place; inquisitions were organized; Indians were enslaved; positions of great influence were desired. Every time we see a major crisis in the history of the Church…we always see that a major cause of rupture is the power exercised by those who claim to be followers of the poor and powerless Jesus.”

Love is the method of redeeming the world. Power is the shortcut. Power is easy. Love is hard. It’s easier to be God than to love God. It’s easier to control people than to love people. It’s easier to own the world than to love the world.

Jesus asks his disciples, “Do you love me?” And his disciples ask him, “Can we sit at your right hand in the Kingdom?”

The Way of Jesus is in deep, personal, intimate, loving, and giving relationship. With each other and with our community, for the salvation of the world.

Peace,

Allan

5 Comments

  1. Weldon McKinney

    Well, sorry borther Allan…..I simply know a different God and a different Jesus than you seem to get giving us from Eugene Peterson. A little research of Peterson leads me to believe that he and I are not on the same track.

    I would suggest for you consideration a book copyrigted in 1966 by H.S. Vigeveno, Jesus the Reveolutionary. Vigeveno paints for us contrasting portraits of Jesus from the “compassionate Jesus” to the “fearless’ and the distrubing Jesus.

    My Lord was no namby-pamby, but a carpenter’s son who was willing to take little children in His arms at one moment, and yet drive out the money-changers from the Temple area in another moment.

    Allan, you have clearly demonstrated to me that you are a passivist. I completely respect that stance. But, we will forever disagree that the Scriptures in total, will support that belief.

    I have a growing since that you see America and our military in a completely different way than I do. Please remember that you within your congregation are those who served, some died, and some were wounded in order for you and I to be able to carry on these conversations and blogs.

    In Him…..

  2. James Prather

    Weldon,

    I don’t think that Allan ever said Jesus was a pacifist. Jesus was in no way a pacifist and those who argue for that are ignoring scripture. God has never been about pacifism (see: Old Testament times where Israelites were ordered to destroy entire civilizations, men, women, children, even the livestock). Jesus even tells his own disciples in Luke 22:36 “and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Now, without getting into the debate about why he said that, Jesus obviously was not a “namby-pamby”. You are correct in that, and I don’t think Allan was saying that at all.

    However, what Allan is getting at is not “does Jesus support violence ‘for a good cause’?” but rather “how do you bring God’s Kingdom into people’s lives?” And the answer to that is not (as Allan correctly said) by force, violence, or power – that’s the world’s way and it has never worked. The way to bring “The Kingdom of Heaven” is through love, which is sharply contrasted by the way the Zealots (first century Jewish sect) wanted to bring the Kingdom with the knife. Jesus provides a very different solution which is to love even your most hated enemies. I think understanding Jesus’ message of the Kingdom and how it is to be brought can only be rightfully understood by examining what the historical, cultural, and religious background of Jesus’ day was like. There is much more to say, and not enough time or space to say it in. But if you’re more interested in this subject, I recently did an in-depth lesson on Jesus and the Zealots, and you can find it here: http://thinkhebrew.wordpress.com/audio-lessons/

    Peace to you,

    James

  3. Gloria

    This lesson is quite moving and deep, but not clear in some parts. You say that “Power is the shortcut” to redeem the world. Correct? However, from your message, I inferred that nothing good can come from power, at least saving-the-worldwise, although moneywise is a different matter. I don’t mean to denounce your sermon in anyway. In fact, I am a fan of yours. It’s just that power cannot be the fast way to make the world better, because it can’t save the world at all. It just creates horrible things like war. I don’t get it completely, but I’m grateful as always for your effort to put this lesson together. Thanks, Allan!!!!!!!!

  4. Allan

    I mean to say, Gloria, that power is a shortcut ATTEMPT to redeem the world. It’s the way the world tries to redeem the world. It’s opposite of the way Jesus does save the world. And it’s wrong. It’s a shortcut because it’s easier to control someone and order them around than to love them and serve them. “Shortcut” was probably not the best word to use because it implies that it leads to the same destination as the “long-cut.” In this case, you’re right, it absolutely doesn’t.

  5. Gloria

    Ohhh. Thanks for the clarification! I appreciate it and I probably was confused since I’ve only just become a teenager.

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