I am often left to wonder to myself what makes us different from everyone else. I wonder, besides the angry protest signs and outrageous acts of deference, what distinguishes us? What makes us peculiar, unusual, extraordinary?
I'm reading Bonhoeffer, and I have to say, the man is a genius. He's opened my eyes to so many things in my faith that I really need to re-ground myself in. But I think what's really hit me is this: Jesus came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.
I've often struggled with the Old Testament, wondering what its main purpose was in relation to Jesus. Well, here you go. God set up in Israel a "nation" - which became a political entity with rules and regulations - and it was under these political terms that Israel became known. And this nation struggled - as every flawed human does - and contrived these rules and regulations to "get right with God."
Jesus, however, said that he was the fulfillment of the law. And you know how He did it? He severed our political ties to an entity, and directed our political allegiance instead to God. When we become Christians, we have severed all ties to the political systems of this world, and are tying ourselves to God's, and His alone. And it is through this lens that we should be living our life.
So what is this new political allegiance? And what does it entail? Well, it's not all that appealing, although it is beautiful. It calls us to put aside our possessions and wealth, our definitions of "success," our quest for self-aggrandizement, our need to assert our "rights" and "freedoms" (which we no longer take up as part of the world), and instead, come and die with Christ. We are called to a life where we actively love our enemies, set aside our pride to glorify God, and to actively remember Christ's cross. The cross on which Christ endured the greatest pain and suffering because He loved you. The cross which symbolized our own cross which we should be taking up alongside Him as members of this new kingdom. Where we come and die to ourselves to bring God's love to those around us. We show mercy to the same extent that Christ showed us mercy on the cross. We are peacemakers to the extent that Christ said "Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they do," while we mocked him as he wreathed in pain on the cross. We are persecuted to the extent of Christ, who did not resist a punishment He never deserved. We love our enemies to the extent that Christ loved us in the midst of putting Him to death. We are called to love and serve the poor to the extent that Christ was homeless, and served the needy, the sick, the lame. We are called to reach out to the untouchables to the extent that Jesus ate dinner with the man who haunted island folklore, the naked man possessed by an army of demons, who lived in a cave and breaks chains with brute strength, and who caused a whole herd of pigs to drown tragically in a river for the number of demons that were living inside of him. This is the extraordinary, the unusual, and peculiar kingdom of Christ. And it is ours to grasp.
We cannot link ourselves to our nation-states of Canada or the US or wherever we live. We are more than that - we are Christians. And our kingdom has a much higher calling. We do not fight wars - we love our enemies. We recognize that the failings of our society, that the call for social justice, can only be fully realized through Christ's kingdom, which sees the faults in all and the value in everyone despite these blatant failures.
What a Church we would be if we recognized our true political allegiances to Christ! It would be revolutionary! Instead, we have people protesting homosexuality, abortion, and turning away the homeless from the doors of our churches. Put down your signs and your pride, and love the people that God loves just as much as you. If you aren't picking up your cross and dying to yourself everyday, then you need to ask yourself whether or not you are really following Jesus.