I gave the talk this morning at Speen Church. We’re not especially Baptist (apparently!) but we do practice the priesthood of all believers. I chose as my theme the book The Wrong Messiah, by Nick Page.
From the cover:
He came from the wrong social class, the wrong place and the wrong profession. He ate with the wrong people, championed the wrong causes and attracted the wrong kind of supporters. He even spoke with the wrong accent. In fact everything about Jesus of Nazareth was wrong. How could this odd-job man be God’s Messiah?
To the authorities he was a dangerous rebel; to the pious he was scandalously unorthodox. Even his family thought he was mad. But somehow this builder from ‘up north’ – this outrageous, unorthodox, rebellious teacher and miracle worker – changed the world.
Our Pastor, Ian Greig, provided on his blog five articles leading up to today’s talk:
- The wrong kind of Messiah
- How we have sanitised Jesus’ artisan beginnings
- Power players meet the peacemaker
- Who do you say I am?
- Against all the odds…
I extended that material by exploring how Jesus provoked the authorities within a highly-charged political atmosphere. He was radically inclusive (EG John 4, Gal 3:28), radically non-violent (EG Matt 5:38-48) and highly political in His rejection of political power (EG His trial, Matthew 26:63-66): the man who entered Jerusalem in the manner of the prophesied king, submitted to death on a cross.
In the final pages of his book, Nick Page writes of Jesus’ followers,
They truly believed that the end-time kingdom He spoke about was both still to come and also already arriving. Its full implementation would be in the future, in the new heaven and the new earth, until then it would be found in the revolutionary love of its citizens: the kingdom of heaven arriving in people-shaped instalments.
And that was my central point. Jesus did not seize political power and exercise violence to achieve some narrow and soon-forgotten political end. He showed how we should live free lives of service to others in humility — how transformation would follow from individual repentance. We must love even our enemies in order that we might fulfil and surpass the law and become brothers and sisters of our risen King, the firstborn of a new creation, glorious in His victory over death.
You can listen to what I said here. As usual, I asserted my belief that public policy cannot be justified by faith but must be founded on evidence and reason.