As I write the U.K. is in a state of confusion and flux. There have been and are arguments that float terms such as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘taking back control.’ People on all sides have strong views which have sometimes led to violence and even bloodshed on English streets. Emotions flow freely, in a torrent that divides nations, families and tribes.
The question the disciples ask Jesus is poignant and understandable: is now the time, they want to know, when God will restore Israel to be an independent nation, with full sovereignty over its own affairs, and the ability to force its own will not only upon its own destiny but upon the nations surrounding Israel.
This desire for autonomy is deeply held within humanity. We are social creatures that flock together for mutual support and security. Usually, indeed always, there is a strong tribal character to this. We want to be with people like us – not ‘the other.’ They are different; they do not live/look/love like us. We do not have the imagination to conceive of communal living and thriving apart from having borders between those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out.’ We are told by an English Prime Minister that ’if you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.’ The failure is to see a new way of being in community.
But Jesus calls his disciples to a different way of life, indeed to The Way of life. Among those who follow him narrow nationalism is not to be a characteristic. There is to be a new humanity, a new community, formed not around cultural markers but around Himself. The new community is to be Christological, and can only happen in the power of the Spirit.
The source of this identity as the people of God, subjects of the kingdom of God, is not based on flags or constitutions, but on the narrative of Jesus himself.
He is a King, but not one of conquest – at least not in the conventional sense of the word. The conquest of Jesus was through sacrifice, through death, not through inflicting violence upon others but accepting such upon his own being. In doing so Jesus presented his followers with a different approach to power, not one to be grasped and held tightly but freely shared. In dying he also provided for forgiveness that can be appropriated only through faith. Such faith is to be a characteristic of The Way.
The views expressed in this blog post are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the GC network.