Things that don’t rest, break. God’s commandment of a Sabbath was not a suggestion. Keeping the Sabbath is a holy act unto the Lord. One of the most subtle attacks of the enemy is to destroy Sabbath. Pastor Adam explains how Sabbath keeping brings blessing and prosperity.
REST: Episode 2 – He Makes Me Lie Down. Psalm 23 The 23rd Psalm is immersed in peace and rest. You rarely see a shepherd running with his sheep. In scripture God is portrayed as the Great Shepherd. Who or what is shepherding your life? What voices and crazy makers do you follow? Following the Good Shepherd leads us to peace and restoration and into the house of the Lord.
We love to imagine Jesus on the stump and us as his stump speech writer, sitting somewhere joyfully behind the scenes as Christ blast away at political opponents. Few people though, when thinking about how Christ would weigh in on a certain political hot-button topic stop to think about the actual politics of the place and time Jesus existed. Instead, we extricate Jesus from any historical context, put him in a blue blazer with a copy of the Federalist papers in his hand and espouse what his views on a host of political topics would be based on our own highly biased and tightly corralled modern opinions.
The context of Jesus’ social and political world must be considered if one views context of value. And we must. Jesus a first century Jew, was from a failed theocracy, a political system meant to have God as its sovereign and its priest and judges acting as mediators of that supreme hierarchy. Instead, Israel demanded a king and got one. Check that, they got many and most all gave them the same results, oppression and more loss of inherited territory. By the time Jesus hits the scene, Kings David, Solomon and Joash are long gone and the nation had been upended and conquered by one of the most dominant societies of all time, the Romans. (Say it again, and this time with the Monty Python accent “The Romans”.)
At the same time, as you will see throughout the book of Acts, a secondary shadow government, run by the Jewish ruling elite and council were also trying to carry on with a government within a government and implementing Jewish laws under the very watchful eyes of the Romans. This is something that Rome allowed as they had become masters of the art of conquering and knew that some form of self-rule must be allowed to stem revolt.
Like the church today, Jesus found himself on the razor’s edge of being part of two political systems, both vying for hearts, minds and territory.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when trying to descend into the wormhole and assume the understanding of Jesus politics is to remember that Jesus was not running for office.
The temptation to make Christ a political figure for one’s purposes is a strong potion. It is as true today as it was back in Jesus day. In trying to damn Jesus to the cross, the Jewish leaders protested to Pilate that Jesus was declaring himself a king trying to overthrow Roman rule. On another occasion, the Jewish people, so enamored by Christ’ power tried to make him king by force. Many believe that Judas, Peter and the other disciples followed Jesus at first not for the kingdom he was offering, but for the earthly one that they imagined. This illusion would be dismantled on the night Jesus allowed himself to be led away for conviction.
Thus, before we get into messianic policy making, we must come to a reckoning with the fact that while Jesus actions and words cataclysmically rocked the political world of its day, Jesus himself was not political, at least not in the way that we understand politics. Here again we come to another question. If Jesus was not intentionally political, than what would the politics of Jesus be?
As I am getting ready to embark on a new sermon series called, The Politics of Jesus, I am wanting to use my social media platform to test some of my thoughts before I take them to the pulpit.
Spoiler Alert: Before we start, let me state that when we talk about the politics of Jesus, we need to make sure not to box Christ into our conceptions and political ideals. Meaning, we must extricate ourselves and our minds from the American, British or whatever political system you happen to be a citizen of.
If we are going to ask ourselves about Jesus particular political positions, we must try and comprehend it from a multivariate analysis and with fresh baby skin. How would you answer the question if you lived in Spain in the fifteenth century or were a field worker in Brazil sixty years ago or a first century Egyptian?
Until we can do that, becoming as unbiased as possible, we have little chance of escaping the bondage and perhaps tyranny of our own isolated conclusions. This is the bubble that so many people live in today. Here, in this ideological space, there is only one reality, your reality and to hell with the rest. When we lack the ability to identify and empathize with someone other than ourselves, we have little chance of ever defining, defending or even finding truth. In the words of Francis of Assisi, “Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” Freeing ourselves from our own ideologies and intentionally seeking to take on another person’s reality and or social space as best we can for the sake of truth is perhaps one of the greatest charities of all.
Bringing it closer to home. Can you imagine yourself as a lesbian who is deeply in love with another woman and is being told that this is an abhorrence to God? Can you feel the pain of perhaps losing the relationship to follow a different path? Or, if you are black and lived in the South during the Confederacy, can you picture yourself as a white slave owner who was truly trying to follow God, perhaps in ignorance to the truth of freedom, but legitimately seeking to be a “good” person? Or, perhaps you are Chinese and were witness to the Rape of Nanking, one of the least known and most devastating genocides of our time. Can you frame yourself a young enthusiastic Japanese soldier, who entered into his countries service with joy and naivete, not knowing that he would soon be hoisting Chinese babies on his bayonet in a macabre game of keep away?
Jordan Peterson, the Canadian firebrand, clinical psychologist whom I saw two nights ago at the Balboa Theater in San Diego has an interesting challenge. He encourages people to imagine the worst you. “Imagine yourself as a Nazi” he says. You protest. I would never be a Nazi. Ha! And that is the first step in becoming one he says. Do you think that the fresh faced seventeen year old German youth ever pictured him or herself at the death camps of Auschwitz gassing a Jew. No, most did not. Rather they got their incrementally, step by step.
Back to our starting place for understanding the political views of Jesus. When we demonize those we disagree with, we put a robe of virtue upon ourselves that is self-vindicating, and can lead to immense horrors. By imagining the worst you that you could be and defining the steps on how you might get there, we become a little less stable, perhaps a bit more contrite, can we even say more human. To know your weakness is perhaps your greatest strength.
For our own purposes of comprehending the politics of Jesus, we must realize that Jesus was not an American, having self-limited his divine knowledge (Philippians 2) he probably had no conceptualization of it. No Constitution, no free speech, no Bill of Rights. None of it. Rather, Jesus was a Jew, living under Roman tyranny in an occupied territory. Here, slavery was law, healthcare was non-existent, pedophilia was legally regulated and religious corruption was rife. Now, put yourself there, in that place. A place filled with poverty and misery, a place where public executions happened almost daily and widows suffered in the streets, and ask yourself. What are the politics of Jesus?
In a world filled with 24/7 attention demands; REST is a foreign concept. Group Chat … calls wherever and whenever … email …. meetings … objectives …. the list of demands for our time are endless. Our purpose is to REST in God’s presence, rest is not laziness and when we rest we enter into the very nature of God. Join Pastor Adam as we explore the biblical narrative of REST.
UBERWhale: Episode 3 – I’m Gonna Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse. Jonah 3. The key to Jonah’s deliverance from his life crisis was that he “obeyed the word of the Lord…” Disobedience makes us food for whales. Yet, obedience to God’s law and His will for our lives gives us a powerful spiritual weapon. The love of God IS unlimited, but it is NOT unconditional. The pesky word “if” is repeated many times in the Bible, unleashing exponential blessing. Maybe you have an obedience problem that’s keeping you from receiving God’s best in your life?
Surviving in the belly of the whale can often be a mishmash journey of faith, sorrow, despair and hope. If we are to survive the trying times that come into our lives we will need to learn how to turn life’s challenges into victory. Join Pastor Adam as he explores Jonah’s being in the belly, and its life lessons for you.
Jonah Flees from the Lord. Jonah 1. What do we do when life takes an unexpected turn? God does send storms into our life, but many storms are of our own conjuring. Sometimes, even little things we do can be the first wind in a storm of own conjuring. God “provided” a whale, giving a path for Revival, Repentence, Obedience, and showing His Compassion. He does that for all of us, even today.
Saul Takes His Life 1 Samuel 31:1-13 What are you preparing for? Saul, preparing his entire life, finally met the moment he prepared for: failure and destruction. When your moment comes; preparation is over! The preparation and decisions we made in the lifetime leading to our moment will be brought forth into a reality in just moments. Preparation needs to be focused seeking to know God and running to a place of worship when our troubles chase you.