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Encountering Empire with a Christ Shaped Imagination for the World

Written by Daniel Tidwell : November 29, 2007

God invites us into communion through Christ. God enters our world in the incarnation, and continues to create in and among us. Not only this, but God invites us through the Spirit of God into the incarnation of Christ. As we enter the communion of Christ then we become the body of Christ in the world. We are offered as God’s communion to the world, inviting the world into relationship with God.

But what about brokenness and sin?

Sin messes with the community(communion) we have with God. Yet God continues to offer community back to the world. So then, from a sacramental understanding, communion is held within Christianity (to varying degrees) as a means of God’s grace.

If in Christ we are offered as communion to the world, we are called to intersect with the problem of sin. But what does the intersection with sin look like? I am not convinced that the primary lens should be about punishment, guilt, or penal substitution. Instead, I believe that the key paradigm is reconciliation through Jesus Christ.

Jesus offered language for thinking about what the invitation to community with God looks like. He calls it the “Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is the reality of community with God through reconciliation in Christ. It is a new reality that intersects the reality of a world of relationships broken by sin.

The empire we reference on this site (as I read it) is somewhat synonymous with systems and relationships that operate in the brokenness of sin. We are invited into restored relationship with Christ to live in the kingdom of God here and now.

As we view the sin and brokenness of life under the empire’s systems that destroy communion with God in the world, we are called to engage in a new dialog with sin.

Instead of thinking of God as looking for chances to destroy and annihilate sin, we are called to see God for who Jesus shows us God is. We need to allow our minds to be disciplined in the practice of imagining what God’s hope is for our world.

This is part of community with God. It is also the place where we can be offered as communion to the world. Instead of being separatists or having disdain for the sin of the world, we can participate in the imaginative, playful, and reconciling hope of God for the world.

What does it look like for us to actively imagine life in the lens of Jesus’ kingdom?

Rather than living our lives in conformity with the ways of the empire around us we are called into kingdom of God.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (TNIV)

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Comments

2 Responses to “Encountering Empire with a Christ Shaped Imagination for the World”

  1. forrest on November 30th, 2007 1:32 pm

    Can you be… maybe not “more precise”, but more specific? (Maybe I just need to see this described another way, if you can.)

  2. daniel.t on November 30th, 2007 3:16 pm

    Forrest,

    The original post was a lot longer but I cut it down (as I usually do) to be a better length (i.e. short enough that most readers won’t skip it).
    I am working on a part 2 post that I will try to finish by early next week. Sorry, but I don’t really have a lot of time to unpack the idea right now. I’m writing papers, studying for a final, and have a guest coming into town for the weekend. Also, I really wanted to throw the idea out there first to see if anyone has thought about the role of imagination in living into the kingdom of Jesus. I have some thoughts but I wanted to get some ideas from others first.

    Peace,
    daniel.t

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