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On Following The Way

    Last month, I introduced the notion that Jesus Christ’s mission here on Earth was to liberate His followers from empire-based thinking. From Jesus’ perspective, empire is not just a political reality, but is a way of thinking, rooted in the logic of “might makes right”. Jesus was very aware that even if Rome were to be defeated with arms, another empire would soon be established in its place; violence will never lead us into the Kingdom of God. Therefore, if our goal is to follow Jesus into God’s Kingdom here on Earth, we have to start with transformation from the inside out.

     That being said, it is very risky to start acting contrary to empire. One of empire’s primary motivators is fear: fear that there will not be enough, fear that others will take advantage, fear that we are unworthy or undeserving. If we choose to live in a way which resists empire-thinking, it will require us to be boldly vulnerable. It will require us to respond to evil with love, to offer generously even when the world is stingy, and to trust that our lives and our boundaries and our integrity are worthy of respect, regardless of what others say or do. Resisting empire-thinking will require a strength that far surpasses the obvious strength that empire demonstrates through domination, shame, and control.

     We can take heart, however, in the knowledge that these risks are what build firm foundations. Strong friendships and partnerships are not pre-destined, but are formed out of a series of risks that people take, revealing their vulnerabilities and asking another person to hold those vulnerabilities in love. This work is often precarious, and must be done carefully. And in the doing, we will certainly make (and certainly have made) miscalculations about who was ready to receive our tender parts. When this happens, empire-thinking shouts loudly, “See, vulnerability is foolishness! You should never have risked yourself!”

     We must work to become people who refuse to be hardened by the betrayals of others. The cup of forgiveness has been poured out for us, poured out against empire-thinking. We are called to be strong enough to bare our weaknesses. We are called to be gentle enough to bear one another’s weaknesses. This is what builds true strength, strength that outlasts empires and kings and tools of war. We are called to trust God enough to follow the Son in His walk of vulnerable power.

     This month, our theme is: Testifying to God’s Work in Our Stories. Last month, I gave all of us (myself included) the challenge of taking two minutes twice a week to just be silent, to give some space in our lives just to God. This month, my challenge to you is to connect with one person each week, to spend half an hour once a week with someone and to listen deeply to their story, to hear where they are strong in their weakness. In this way, we will follow The Way, and move towards liberation from Empire.

In Peace and with Love,
Pastor Andrew