Sunday, September 27, 2015
Jesus and Ideology
I bring this up because today Jesus really resists being classified in any ideology. We seem him be really really nice and open minded, and then we see him be really really close minded and almost mean. In the first part of the gospel, he tells us to be generous in interpreting any kind thing we see, and then in the second part we see him be very harsh, very strict (even mean) concerning sin.
The apostles want to be a little closed-minded here and insist that the only people who get to do cool things like heal and drive out demons are those who are a part of our group. But Jesus isn't so closed-minded. He teaches them that anyone who does good in his name is part of their group. Jesus is ok with this man working in his name even though he's not a part of the club. This open, inclusive Jesus is a very popular view of Jesus in our western 21st century. This is a Jesus that gets high approval ratings from our presidents, congresses and judges for being so progressive, as if Jesus cares about whether any human power approves of him.
I've been excited to preach on this scripture for years because I'm convinced that Jesus isn't quite speaking in a metaphor like we think he is. "If you're hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hand to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire." We like to say that he doesn't really mean it, he didn't really mean to cut off your hand, because Jesus is nice and soft and fluffy. But we want to be careful because the conclusion he draws is very, very true. The conclusion he draws, that it is better to enter into life, that is, heaven, maimed than with two hands to go Gehenna, that is, to hell.
The unifying principle in everything Jesus does is love. Love accepts every good thing, but love never tolerates sin. Sin is always a cheapening of the life that Jesus calls us to. Jesus calls us to a love that actually gives life by affirming the true, the good, and the beautiful. So our job is not to reduce Jesus to our weak human standards and categories, but rather to raise ourselves out of human ideologies to meet Jesus. When we raise ourselves to Jesus's standards then we start to see a view of the world that is so much bigger than the bickering of ideologies. Jesus's view of the world is so much richer and truer than ours. So raise your mind to Christ, take on Christ's view of the world, and through that you will experience Christ's authentic love.