Yesterday, we examined the value of mission and the Christian life, spending time examining Luke 5:17-24, where friends of a paralytic went to extreme measures to have their friend healed by Jesus.
I suggested that a gift from a church is to cause the right type of trouble in the world, riffing off the claim in Acts 17:6.
This right type of trouble goes beyond reposting “she reads truth” images on Facebook and even the exercise of studying the Bible and discussing ways that we can engage within God’s world without participating in the activities we discuss.
But, imagining that God would use our lives to cause the right type of trouble may not be as foreign of a concept or as outlandish of an idea that we might initially expect. Sometimes, the simplest acts of service, done with deep love, can cause the dynamic nature of the world to be sent into a different direction.
Everything that we do today (and each day) has a political component to it. Don’t get nervous about that statement. I know that we seemed to be trained to try to keep a religious life and a political life separate. For Jesus and his contemporaries, though, all of life (including private spirituality and “life in public”) was woven together. Even considering Jesus as your “savior” (the Jewish title for Messiah, Chosen One; the Greco-Roman equivalent, “Christ”) is a deeply political idea.
When Jesus’ followers confessed him as “Lord” they were standing beside expectations like Psalm 2:1-2, 5-7:
“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth raise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed (Christ, Messiah)…
He (God) rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’ I will proclaim, the Lord’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.'”
Jesus’ agenda wasn’t a private one; Jesus’ friends were expected to enact their faith in public. That is our opportunity today.
NT Wright suggests that the Christian life, then, can broadly be rendered into two activities: reclaiming and renouncing. We reclaim (and celebrate) those things from our human experience that celebrates Jesus’ reign within the earth, things shaped by faith, hope, and love. We also renounce those things when point away from God’s new world that is breaking into the present. With courage and patience, we declare “those things do not belong.”
Think about what might need to be reclaimed and renounced in your zip code and, if you get busy about doing something about it with the grace that God provides, you might just find that you are causing the right type of trouble in the world.