Don’t lose your savor, folks
· The church can’t become too closely identified with existing power structures.
When Jesus said to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s,” I think he was basically telling the religious authorities of the day to stay in their lane. The gospel does have political implications, but it isn’t concerned with accruing political power or influence. The challenge for us as western Christians is that we have to live with the legacy of the Catholic church and the Roman empire being two peas in a pod for hundreds of years.
How do we deal with that? By constantly examining what priorities are in play in the interaction between the Church and political authorities and ideologies. Are they truly the priorities of God’s kingdom, or is Christianity merely being used as a justification for a set of actions or beliefs?
· The church can’t play it safe.
Christians have at times used humility as an excuse for sitting back and keeping a
low profile. Christian groups have certainly made the opposite mistake and shown extreme hubris at times. But just because we shouldn’t take ourselves too
seriously doesn’t mean we should be flippant about the mission or downplay
our responsibility as those who have gospel—good news—to share with the world. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket (Matt. 5:15 NRS).” Stop hiding, church! The poor and oppressed can’t afford our self-deprecating silence any longer.
· The church has to stay focused on the cross.
The first two points can be summed up in this one. The cross shows how seriously Jesus took his mission, and it is also the ultimate symbol of humility. The apostle Paul called it a scandal! Jesus’ disciples expected him to overthrow the Roman government and sit on the throne of David. Jesus chose a cross instead.
The cross also reminds us that the gospel is political because Jesus was executed by Roman authorities who feared he would lead a peasant revolt and at the same time reminds us that Jesus wasn’t concerned with gaining political power, because he went willingly to his death, even telling Pilate that if his kingdom were “of this world,” his servants would fight. But his kingdom is not of this world. It is God’s kingdom, and it operates on a different set of values and priorities.