Political Jesus

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Isaiah 9:1-7

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!

I realize that this is kind of a crazy post to be putting up the day after a presidential election, but…

It is interesting to me how in the Hebrew Scriptures people were looking for a Messiah who would release the captives and govern in a way of truth and justice.

Then we have Jesus, whom Christians say fulfills all the Hebrew Scripture prophecies of the coming Messiah. But Jesus turned government, rulers and principalities on their heads.

Somehow, 2000 years later we have created a pansy Jesus who is all luvy-duvy with everyone. “Meek and Mild, As If” Jesus was and continues to be a revolutionary. He challenges our way of thinking and our view of the world. Jesus may not have been political himself, but his call to reform, speak up for the ones cast aside, and care for all those in need was totally political at the time, and still impacts us today.

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Struggles

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What would happen if you were able to sit with someone and share your deepest struggles with faith?  The struggles that often came with dogmatized Christianity – definition of Trinitarian theology, creedal statements that don’t say anything about what Jesus actually did in his ministry, the necessity of top down “religion” where the average person couldn’t talk with God.  I wonder what would happen if we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable enough to share our struggles?

Relationships

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There is a deep yearning for relationships and something bigger than “myself” in our world today.  The paradox is that in this deep yearning for relationships, our face to face interactions get fewer and fewer with the advent of social media. Social media makes us feel that we are in relationship, but are we really? Or are we merely showing the avatar self that is on a computer screen? Life is so fast today that we rarely have time to sit and listen to anyone, much less our own heart or the heart of God.

How do you build authentic relationships in your life?

“Off-Label” and Abundant Love

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Where could “off-label” Christianity move the world? Could we experience the peace that Jesus actually intended, rather than turn life into anger and hate that is so prevalent in our world? Could abundant life (John 10:10) be the true intention of following Jesus, or just a potential side effect? What role does love play in the Christian’s life? To my dismay, true Christian love, is not regularly seen nor felt in many of our congregations? Are the gifts of the Spirit as Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians meant for the individual or is there something more “off-label” to them?

“Off-Label” – moving outside the box

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Can the notion of “off-label” use of medication be prescribed to the practice of Christianity? Are Denominational Headquarters, dogmatic creeds and “we’ve never done it that way before” congregations really like the Food and Drug Administration and Center for Drug Evaluation and Research? Are we, in the mainstream of Christian tradition, reluctant and potentially averse to experience Jesus as he is, in the multitude of ways that he has transformed lives for literally thousands of years, outside of the normal prescription.

Druggist

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The professional term “Pharmacist” has been a recent label to what was more of a generalist term of “druggist.” With the bigger and more numerous drug companies, the nuance of actually concocting and creating a medicine to treat a particular aliment has slowly dissipated. But there was a time when a druggist did just that. They “created” medication for people. You may remember Mr. Gower (the druggist) in “It’s a Wonderful Life” had filled a child’s prescription, George Bailey out of concern for both Mr. Gower and the child realized Gower, in his own depression over the loss of his son, had used poison in the capsule. Bailey saved the child by pointing it out to Gower who in anger slapped Bailey repeatedly in the left ear – resulting in hearing loss – came to realize his mistake and thanked Bailey for what he had done.  Sometimes the medication for good may in fact be poison.

In medical practice today, “Off-label” use is the practice of prescribing pharmaceuticals for an unapproved indication or in an unapproved age group, unapproved dose or unapproved form of administration.  This “off-label” use of medication is closer to the druggist notion of care.

What about with practicing following Jesus? There was a time when following Jesus was all about nuance, and experimenting, and making it work for each person and group. Then there was a time of “mainstreaming” and the result was a religion with rules and regulations which worked for some time. Though it was oppressive.

Today, I believe, we are entering a new time of “off-label Christianity”.  A time of looking backward to get our best gifts of our past constantly checking as we move into the future. (Based on the idea of “Sankafoa”.)

Are we, in the mainstream of Christian tradition, reluctant and potentially averse to experience Jesus as he is, in the multitude of ways that he has transformed lives for literally thousands of years, outside of the normal prescription. How can we begin to get “off-label”?