Last week I wrote about Jesus as Lord. Some things still need to be mentioned however.
For those who know me, last weeks post might have been a bit shocking. A lot of my friends know me as someone who gets frustrated with to much theory and lack of action (although in the end I love theorizing and debating).
My wife and I had a lovely discussion after church last week. I criticized the sermon because it gave to much sovereignty to humans and what we can do as opposed to God. In effect, what I was frustrated with was the idea that we can somehow be effective in lifting ourselves and others out of the mire, that we can solve things like poverty, war, violence, hunger… My wife’s first question: Does this mean we shouldn’t try?
So here is my response. First things first: we cannot do anything well! This is hard for us to learn. Because our enlightenment fueled, scientific-empirical culture has thought us that we are on a track of moving history forward to it most perfect ending. That indeed we are improving ourselves daily… And yet we all know that we are lying to ourselves. The problem is if we as Christians fall into the myth that we have the power to turn this world around. The problem is when we think that the church will show the world and the governments and all peoples how to live rightly. Because in all of this, we make the goals we try to achieve out to be our Lords.
So, should we do nothing. Should we just go back into our church buildings and worship and wait for the world to end and get as far away as possible?
My ancestors were Anabaptist, and they firmly believed that our faith (our inner life) had to be proclaimed by our actions (our “works”). And yet all of this was only possible because of God’s sovereignty over everything, both our works and our actions. The Anabaptists were not trying to change the world, they were trying to be faithful. As it happened, they believed that faithfulness entailed loving their neighbors, helping the poor and following Jesus all the way to the cross (often literally as many of them were martyred). You see, the goal, was following Jesus. That’s it. That’s all. And yet that is so much…
I hope that we can start spending more time trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus and stop wondering whether what we do is effective. I hope that we can stop hoping to influence the government to put forward Christian policies because they are better. I hope we can start to proclaim that what we do and how we do it is done because Jesus is Lord and we are trying to be disciples. I hope that in my own life, Jesus can be Lord and I can be a disciple.
In the end, maybe it seems to be small distinction between what we do and why we do it. And yet, giving God the Lordship over all needs to be so hugely important. Let me point out two areas in which we can work at this: character and community.
I mentioned last week that I was reading Hauerwas. One of the things that I took away from him was the notion of character (once again, I would like to mention that this might not be completely faithful to his writings so I don’t claim that he says all of this). So much of our life as Christians and as disciples is spent following rules, laws that we make for ourselves and that others have told us will make us good Christians. And most of the time, these things are not bad in themselves. But often, these rules become idols. Maybe we need to stop looking at the Bible as a set of rules, but as a book that shows us what kind of characters we ought to be. Maybe discipleship is not about being obedient to a set of laws, but rather to be like Christ in character. My hope is that I can stop asking whether I am doing the right things to be a good Christian, and instead asking, am I letting Jesus be the Lord of my life so that he can shape my character? In other words, am I following rules or am I following Jesus?
Recently I watched this video. You might like it and you might not. I am not saying this is the church. And yet… Maybe this could be the church. Maybe we need to start talking to strangers and making friends. Maybe I need to start… at least.
The second area in which I think we have taken away Lordship from God is in community. Both Hauerwas and Yoder continually call for “the church to be the church.” Weird? A bit maybe… And yet what they are saying is that we need to stop getting lost into things that the community of the Body of Christ has no business being in. Instead of focusing on fixing everything that is wrong we need to start putting our community under the Lordship of Christ.
How do we do this? Maybe asking that question is the start. Or maybe, we ought to start by asking God that question, invite him to teach us through his word and start both in our personal life and with others to just follow. Easier said then done.
Jesus is Lord… the Lord of everything!