“But the Most High has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of God’s very own possession, as you are now.”Deuteronomy 4: 20
Christianity was born out of Judaism and the umbilical cord has never quite been severed no matter how much historical events attempted to deny our connection to one another. Both traditions have evolved over time and continue to evolve as greater understanding of our relationship with God evolves. Neither tradition is as it was in the era when scripture was written. Nevertheless, we can look to scripture as a starting place for reflection.
God continues the covenant relationship with Judaism and continues to develop the new covenant relationship with followers of Christ Jesus. Both movements were born out of a defiance to the world order. Both have the same goal — the reign of God, or as scripture says, the kingdom of God. In my mind it has become like a pincer movement where God is assailing the problems of this world from both flanks. (Not that God has abandoned other methods).
Both traditions are not so much religions as they are philosophies or ways of life. Their goal is to move humanity into the reign of God, which I have been referring to as the Beloved Community of God. When Christ Jesus began his ministry he proclaimed that the kingdom of God is already in our midst and what we need to do is grasp this idea, latch on to it, and live it. In other words, to defy the way things are and believe that change is possible.
The religious, cultural, and political leaders of his day knew full well the consequences of the words of Jesus. Everything he said served to threaten their wealth, their status, and their privilege, and they would not have it. He had to be killed and they didn’t hesitate to act. We need to understand that Jesus was killed as an insurrectionist. Crucifixion was the method used to kill the rebels of Rome.
Sadly, there is a more effective and sinister way to undermine Christianity today. This time tested way of attack is to convince people that these ways of life are mere religions and to encourage followers to practice them as private, devotional religions. Christians become so focused on heaven as to be of no earthly use and God’s Beloved Community remains a dream that has no impact on what we call “real life.” In other words, nothing changes.
We are born out of defiance of the way things are and have been given the gift of hope that this world can change. The God who brought a motley multitude of people out of Egypt, covenanted with them, and made of them the People of God is with us still. God made of that people a society that contrasted with all the nations around them. Christ Jesus was born of this people and continued to contrast the ways of God over and against the ways of this world.
We need to remember that we are born of defiance, that we are on God’s side, and that we are brought into a new way of life. We cannot let the world tame us into practicing a private and ineffectual devotional religion. Christianity is not a religion. It is mode of life that stands in contrast to the ways of this world.
My beloved ones in Christ, let us join God’s revolution and bring the Beloved Community to earth as it is in heaven. Let us build communities of justice, peace, and love where all are treated with equal respect and dignity, and compassion prevails.