Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rebel God

I think like a lot of people in my generation, I always felt torn between the picture of Jesus as this peaceful teacher who came to bring love and the one who tore the temple apart in righteous rage. On the one hand, He seems safe, good, whole, easier to digest. On the other, he feels unwieldy. What do I do with a God who can be angry and not in sin?

And I think that part of me, the one that really does love rules, the one who tends towards legalism, just couldn't relate on some level. Why so mad, Jesus? Why is it alright that you did that? Aren't you doing something illegal? Aren't you risking your very life just to tell some people they shouldn't sell stuff in God's house?

Over the last decade or so, however, I've begun to take solace in this latter picture of Jesus. The unwieldy one. The less predictable one.

In this Jesus who hated the status quo and wanted life for his people.

In this Jesus who stood against the people who had the power because they used it wrongfully.

In this Jesus who thought it was worth overturning tables in a holy space to make the point that God's leaders had their priorities wrong.

In this Jesus who was willing to destroy property to make it clear that the secular and religious authorities cared more about their temples, their corrupt systems, their rules and their money than they did about the humanity that suffered under those structures.

In this Jesus who was a rebel. A non-compliant. Who was ultimately jailed and murdered for asking the questions he did. For threatening a system that hat ruled for centuries, and ruled poorly.

Friends, if you call yourself a Christian believer, you cannot ignore this side of our God.

You cannot shout from the rooftops about conservative politics and abortion and then completely disregard "black lives matters" because some people are looting and you just can't "get behind a movement that might be violent." Um, if I recall, there have plenty of violent things that have happened in the pro-life movement, but I don't see you dismiss it. You can't tell people to find a way to protest peacefully and then crucify them when that means taking a very peaceful knee during our national anthem- they have that right.

Our allegiance is to God, not America. If seeing someone "disrespect" our anthem or flag makes you angrier than the issue that has caused that person to make that stand, check yourself.

It's really plain and simple.

You can't have it both ways.

If you want to follow this Rebel God, if you want to dig into this side of the man who walked this earth to bring us life, you must engage with this side of him. You must ask the deeper questions.

Why are so many people angry? MIGHT it be that something IS actually wrong? What do we do if that's the case?

Why do so many people feel threatened? And silenced? And unheard? And afraid?

What if things ARE unequal in our country? What does that mean to us as believers following a God who made his abhorrence for injustice clear?

Might the people protesting right now not be directly identifying with the ways the Jews felt 2000 years ago, a feeling we like to happily say we understand in our safe little bible studies but then ignore when millions around us are saying the same thing, as if humans have made some kind of amazing progress since then and suddenly rule with righteousness and peace and equality and so it couldn't possibly be true?

Today, I beg you, I implore you.

Take a step back from what you think you know. Take a step back from what you've read and been told about race in our country, especially if you were raised in the colorblind generation.

And ask God where he is in this. What He's doing. And what he might have you say and do as you engage it this rebel Jesus.

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