Lead us to repentFor as long as I’ve known it, I’ve found this a very disturbing, but compelling vision of how we are called to live. What does John the Baptist have to say to us?
according to his preaching,
and accordng to his example,
Constantly to speak the truth,
Boldly to rebuke vice,
and patiently to suffer for the truth’s sake.
I suspect he would incisively question us over issues we are complacent about, but his big critique would be for the self-satisfied way we approach living itself. We all know about Western comfy suburban religion, but Riazat Butt’s shocking report of the Gafcon presser gave an equally disturbing vision of people subjected to violence and intimidation simply for being who they are, whilst bishops close their eyes and their hearts, simply because the victims are homosexual. If true, what kind of sell-out to prevailing culture is that?
I hear the authentic voice of John the Baptist in some words from the Mennonite tradition, from Rudy Weibe’s 1970 novel The Blue Mountains of China:
The whole idea of Jesus just talking about people being “saved” and feeling good about it is wrong. Quite wrong. He was alive on earth to lead a revolution! A revolution for social justice. The terrible question of his day as it is in ours was and is social injustice to the poor, to the racially oppressed, to the retarded and helpless.
Mary said, “All people will call me blessed because of the mighty things God has done for me, he stretched out his mighty arm and scattered the proud people with all their plans, he brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly, he filled the hungry with good things.”
That’s the good news Jesus came to bring and do. And he didn’t do it all by setting up a church that can never change no matter where on earth or in what century it is, a church that’s never as important to us as living, as eating, as making our pile, that’s there for a few hours a Sunday and maybe a committee meeting during the week to keep our fire escape polished, to keep us decent as our parents all told us.
No! The church Jesus began is us living, everywhere, a new society that sets all the old ideas of man living with other men on its head, that looks so strange it is either the most stupid, foolish thing on earth, or it is so beyond man’s usual thinking that it could only come as a revelation right from God.
Jesus says in his society there is a new way for man to live:
You show wisdom by trusting people;
you handle leadership, by serving;
you handle offenders, by forgiving;
you handle money, by sharing;
you handle enemies, by loving;
and you handle violence by suffering.
In fact you have a new attitude toward everything, toward everybody. Toward nature, toward the state in which you happen to live, toward women, toward saves, toward all and every single thing. because this is a Jesus society and you repent, not by feeling bad, but by thnking different. Different.
This is the new society of the “church,” and Jesus is its Lord. “The kingdom of God is within your grasp, repent and believe the good news!”