Bring it On

Written by beyondwords : January 18, 2008

Over the holidays, I finished reading N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God.

The urgency of Jesus’ mission–calling Israel to repentance and announcing the inauguration of the Kingdom of God–sets the whole of Scripture in a new light.

Before we turn everything Jesus said and did into a disembodied spiritual platitudes, we must understand that he was subverting Israel’s notions of YHWH’s rule and Israel’s election. He was saying to the status quo: “You’re 180 degrees off track and you need to turn around or face the cataclysmic consequences!”

Even the prayer Jesus taught us is a cry for provision and protection for the inauguration of the kingdom. If YHWH’s kingdom is coming and his will is being done on earth as in heaven, a lot of people will not welcome it. Those who become YHWH’s agents as Jesus’ disciples will face persecution.

Thus, “lead us not into temptation” is better translated as “lead us not into the time of trial.”

Sometimes I find myself recklessly praying not to be spared from the time of trial, but for courage to recognize the persecution, and to stand against the status quo of our day.

We often hear about Christians being persecuted by “the world,” but Jesus wasn’t talking about that. He was warning his disciples that those who felt their election was secure for the coming reign of YHWH would not be happy with his message.

Let’s all pray for courage to recognize where we need to stand against those of our day who believe their “election” is secure, when they really need to turn around 180 degrees.

Let’s make the Lord’s prayer the subversive cry it was meant to be. If persecution is required, can we say, “Bring it on?”

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4 Responses to “Bring it On”

  1. Joe Carson on January 18th, 2008 6:23 pm

    How have you, personally, “suffered for righteousness’ sake?” Is not the most “unfair” thing about your life (as mine, by the way) how “unfairly fair” life is, has been, and will be to you, relative to the vast majority of humans beings in recorded history or living today?

    Lenin dismissed most of this “Marx manifestistas” as “tea drinkers.” While I condemn using unlawful means to improve and advance democratic “rule of law” - “God’s will be done on earth” - to best degree mankind has been able to ascertain and try in its history, the gulf between the words and the actions publicly taken to advance them, even if they cost one that empirically most precious thing of economic advantage, is a scandal.

  2. Beyond Words on January 18th, 2008 8:22 pm

    Hey, Joe. You’re right. I’ve never suffered political or physical persecution. But I’ve suffered deeply and painfully for righteousness sake in interpersonal relationships within the church–which is largely part of the “status quo” I was talking about in my post.

    I’m not sure what you’re second paragraph means, :) I don’t think you’re equating democratic rule of law with God’s will on earth–but I do think it’s a scandal we Christians have not lived in a way that risks persecution. That’s why I pray for courage to recognize where to take a stand and risk the consequences.

  3. Mark Van Steenwyk on January 19th, 2008 1:24 pm

    This ties into Mike’s article about Christians being “haters of humanity.” I posted some suggestions there that would probably end up in persecution.

    Persecution happens when you go against the status quo enough to threaten it. In a pluralistic society like the USA, we make generous legal allowances (compared to most nations) for dissent. That is one reason why persecution isn’t prevalent. Another reason is that our understanding of Christianity has been so co-opted by the ideals of Liberal Democracy (in the classic sense of the term) that we don’t recognize the ways in which we should struggle against the Powers.

  4. Jason Barr on January 21st, 2008 2:23 pm

    Also, “lead us not into” can be more loosely rendered as “save us from”, which I tend to thing flows more coherently with the overall thought pattern of the prayer.

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