The lens through which many Christians come to interpret the life of Jesus is formed more by American systems of thought than any other. It’s subtle and usually drenches us with a slow drip.
We fall into the trap of a subconscious effort to retrofit Jesus into an already defined understanding of what is true, what is called “good” and described as “beautiful.” We call it “right” or “left”, “conservative” or “liberal” or “progressive.” It’s the American logic of distinction. You hear it when the Christian reacts to the language of “social justice.” You hear it when the Christian throws out accusations like cultural Marxism.
I can appreciate all the confusion. Jesus doesn’t uphold his kingdom by our American logic. He doesn’t attempt to accommodate our preferences, modern day politics or our notions of patriotism. He doesn’t enter into the transcendent boots-on-the-ground gospel-logic through secular understandings of morality sprinkled with religion. Jesus works from a different logic that creates an all together different politic constructed from a different understanding of truth that determines what is called good and described as beautiful.
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” he says. “Love your enemies and bless them,” he teaches. “Give to any who ask without expectation of return,” he demands. “The world will know you’re mine by how you love one another,” he whispers. “You should have been concerned with the weightier matters of the law: justice…” he preaches. Jesus extended the narrow boundaries of hospitality created by his society’s “right” and “left,” “conservative” and “liberal.” It’s why he welcomed liars, thieves, home wreckers, and those who didn’t believe; the abandoned and abused, the lonely and confused; the widow, the child, the forgotten and left-out.
The politically savvy and religious elite didn’t understand him. They were too concerned with operating from a logic that aligned with their own versions of “right” and “left.” They even called it Scriptural. And they missed the Christ.
Looking around it seems some things haven’t changed. But it can. I hope it will because this conversation is getting really tired.
As for me, I’m pressing on.