Monday, September 24, 2012

...A Time to Die (Punks, Part 3)

...see also Calling All Punks! and Rebel God

Jesus Christ is the true physical embodiment of divine rebellion. Look at him trampling waves underfoot, marching across the watery chaos as if on dry ground. Watch him heal diseases and raise the dead as if even the laws of life and death have no bearing on him. See him turn bland water into fine wine and miraculously multiply bread and fish to feed the masses, throwing new light on disciplines as disparate as chemistry and supply-and-demand. And at every turn, hear him confound and rebuke the would-be authorities that gnash their teeth to put God in his place. 

In Jesus we see God flouting or perfecting the laws of nature, of physics, of government and economics, of social sciences and justice and power, and even the religious laws his own people would claim were handed down by God himself. What he is really doing is ushering in a new kingdom with its own law of love, exposing the ineptitude of our attempts and the bankruptcy of our posturing.

It all culminates in perhaps his greatest act of rebellion: the cross. We typically focus, and rightly so, on the cross as Jesus’ ultimate act of obedience toward the Father. But in the face of the world’s system of power and twisted misunderstandings about empire and immortality, the cross is the ultimate act of rebellion. It’s all the story of God taking his place as King: a crucifixion for his coronation; thorn branches for his crown; nails for his scepter and footstool; and a cross for his throne, upon which he hung to survey his cursing, cowering subjects.

God grabbed the chaos of human sin and the death of all creation, 
took it in his bloody hands, and fashioned redemption. 

He was brutally and publicly shamed, a first-century lynching to show passersby that this naked, bloody mess is what happens when you rebel against the world’s authorities. No one would look upon this chaotic scene and see the greatest triumph in the history of the world…no one except God. For in that rebellious act God grabbed the chaos of human sin and the death of all creation, took it in his bloody hands, and fashioned redemption. Using death to kill death, he rebelled against the grave and rose to inaugurate the new creation. You think God isn’t rebellious? That’s rebellion.

We’ll do our best to understand it, to give it doctrinal labels and argue about who has it all figured out. But we’ll never have a clue. It’s time to fall into that rebellion and let it knock us around. We mustn’t wear a T-shirt and call it rebellion or, worse, turn our sanctuaries into high-tech lemonade stands and pander for customers. 

Jesus said anyone who wants to follow him must deny themselves and take up their cross. So let’s shed the sequined jumpsuits, destroy our idols (American and otherwise), free our minds from the cults of personality, get in the faces of our lawmakers instead of at their other end, take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Follow him all the way—to scorn, to shame, to death, and on through to the life that really is life. 

We’ll take all the sin and fear and power-hunger and world-conformity and me, me, me! and all the chaos we’re drowning in and let it all die. We’ll rebel against the American dream and what Washington and Hollywood and Madison Ave tell us our lives should be. And we’ll set out for that undiscovered country whose music already beckons and whose King is the Rock God.

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