Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jesus for President: Section @, Part 2

The Mustard Seed Revolution!

This section was so awesome, it completely changed the way I think about this parable and the way I expect the world to change, but first, the parable:

"He told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.'" Matthew 13:31-32

"What Jesus had in Mind was not a frontal attack on the empires of this world. His revolution is a subtle contagion - one little life, one little hospitality house at a time. Isn't it interesting that Saul of Tarsus went door-to-door (Acts 8:3) trying to tear up the contagion, like it was a weed? But the harder people tried to eradicate it, the faster it spread. When mustard is crushed, its potency is released. As we say, 'In the blood of the martyrs lies the seed of the church.' Paul caught it - the mustard weed grabbed him. Another convert we love is Minucius Felix, who, as a persecutor of the early Christians, had this to say about the followers of the Way: 'They form a profane conspiracy' infecting the Roman Empire, 'and just like a rank growth of weeds... it should at all costs be exterminated, root and branch...'

So there goes Jesus spinning power on its head again. His power was not in crushing but in being crushed, triumphing over the empire's sword with his cross. Mustard must be crushed, ground, broken for its power to be released. John's gospel describes Jesus' death and resurrection as a seed that is broken; 'Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds' (John 12:24). This is the crazy mystery that we celebrate, a Christ whose body is torn apart and whose blood is spilled like the grains and grapes of the Eucharist that gives us life... Mustard, a wild contagion of a weed, a healing balm, a sign of upside-down power -- official sponsor of the Jesus Revolution."
(Jesus for President, 104-105)
Are we to push and force and prod our ways so arrogantly into people's lives as if we knew what was better for them, or are we to live the life of a weed? The first way doesn't portray a real Jesus, but it might make for a nice moral environment (probably not).

What does it look like to live like a weed? (1) I think that we become undesirable and therefore relate more to (a) Christ, his heart and ways as He was the undesirable, and (b) our true neighbors (Luke 10:36-37). When we find the heart, way, teachings, Grace and Love of Christ, we can't help but see His burden for the "... the poor... the prisoners... the blind... the oppressed" (Luke 4:18).

When we live this quality of Jesus, we become more like Him, which is more like those 'undesirables' around us. As we become weak and crushed, we move from sympathy (some have to come all the way from apathy) to empathy. When we reach empathy, we can show true mercy talked about in Luke 10. The parable of the good Samaritan is a parable about an undesirable (a Samaritan) showing true neighborly love (which ranks very high, right next to and like, our love for God as mentioned in Matthew 22) to a Jew in need. How disgraceful was it that the Jewish authorities would pass up one of their own and God would commend the gentile. But that is what is going on. A lowly person helping someone in a similar position, not because it is necessary, not because the Samaritan wanted to feel morally superior to the Jew, but because our common suffering and triumphing together is much more a unifier than any nationality or gender roles.

As far as this views the Empire (earthly states and gov't), a violent revolution would never be an option. Nonviolence rules the day, at least on our hand. Modern exemplars are Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. We, becoming weeds, sprout up unassuming and become nests for birds, places for people to experience the true kingdom. If we are crushed, we become more potent than ever before.

2 comments:

  1. On this I agree. Physical revolution is not what
    Jesus had in mind. Pushing ourselves or our beliefs on others is against what he preached.
    However, undesireable is not the word that I would use. I could be wrong, but I believe that
    true Christian faith is very appealing to secular
    people. We have what they are seeking, peace, happiness, contentment. These are the things that the world is seeking. What they are getting
    from the church these days, is not that different from what they already have. As a
    nonChristian I knew who was real and who wasn't.
    Those who were "real" were presenting something
    very desireable to me. While those who weren't,
    were causing me to turn and run. To paraphrase
    Jesus, he said that if he were lifted up, he would draw all men to him. If I misunderstood the use of the word "undesireable" I apologize.

    Dave W.

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  2. I don't think you misunderstood, I just think we come from different generations and I am using it in an abnormal way.

    It seems as I agree with this statement most: "What they are getting from the church these days, is not that different from what they already have." I see the church of the last few generations as very much minimizing the gospel. They boiled it done to "adding" Jesus as part of our lives instead of having him come in a completely remodeling. When I read John Wesley and B. T. Roberts (founders of our faith) I read of men who were completely changed and who desired it for others, but it seems that this is few and far between. I pray my generation changes and I feel like it is making some good steps.

    This is what I kind of mean when I say undesirable. It is a lifestyle that at first glance is undesirable. If we look at the early church, they were poor, they shared everything, they were killed for their faith without defending themselves even to death, they refused desires and wants and stuck to needs, they didn't participate in politics. There is so much that made them undesirable, but is was also this thing that led many who were wounded to see Jesus. They wanted the family, the peace, the love. So to me, it is the undesirability that we have lost. We focus so much on being attractive to the world, that we forgot how to be Christ-followers.

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