I touched on this a little bit in my last post. The fact of the matter is that Jesus was indeed a revolutionary for his time period. This is pretty well known within Christian pop culture, who utilize the revolutionary stereotype to sell T-shirts with crosses on them, but Jesus doesn’t strike me as the type to really identify as the edgy, rockstar type person saying “I’m gonna change the world.” Leave that crap to Bono. Though Jesus could easily have been identified as a celebrity of his time, he didn’t exactly do much for good publicity…
Instead of overthrowing the Roman invaders, He told an oppressed people that the meek would inherit the earth, that they should turn the other cheek and love their enemies
Instead of rubbing elbows with the political leaders of his day, he spent time with the outcasts and lepers, often calling out leaders on their hypocrisy and driving them away with his honesty.
Instead of leading an uprising and winning a great military victory, he died a horrible death on a cross, leaving his followers and friends to wonder, “What now?”
Christ failed as a revolutionary then (in their eyes), and for all definitions of revolutionary today, he fails as well. He’s not edgy, he’s humble. He’s not rushing into the fight, he’s laying down his life. He’s not popular, he’s loving to anyone around him, regardless of status.
Now, anyone who’s read a little Shane Claiborne knows I’m taking a lot of this from Jesus for President, but consider this: I’m not talking about this to tell you something neat about Jesus, something that makes you go, “Oh, that is SO right!” as if the things Jesus did were novel. Frankly, they weren’t even necessarily original; they were the exact interpretation of Hebrew law that God wanted so badly for his people to understand. Jesus called people out on their “holiness” and told them they had not begun to obey. Instead of rallying people’s emotions, Jesus called them to repent, to say “we don’t even know the meaning of Godliness,” and to live life as God truly intended them to do.
In essence, I’m saying none of us know the meaning of Godliness. As the people of Jesus’ time didn’t understand (or rather, became very uncomfortable with) his revolution, neither do we. We think it’s a nice thing to care for the poor. We think it a nice thought to love our enemies. We think it a novelty to turn the other cheek!
It’s not a nice thought. It’s a command. Do as the Lord commands you to do. Don’t think of holiness as novel, or something unachievable given our society today, but strive for it!
What about you? Is loving your enemy a novel idea, or a command we’ve conveniently chosen to overlook?