Yes & No

Who is God?

Is God good?

Does God love all people?

Does the violence in the Old Testament mean that God is about violence?

Is the Bible recording God’s posture towards outsiders or humanity’s inability to understand God?

Did the Israelites win battles or did God?

Does God want peace?

Was Jesus more than a prophet?

Was Jesus more than a human?

Does Jesus show us what God is like?

Does Jesus condone violence?

Did Jesus support Empire?

Was Jesus politically relevant?

Was Jesus a revolutionary?

Why did the Jews and Romans want to kill Jesus?  Because he was teaching people a new spirituality?

Was Jesus concerned with peace?

Did Jesus want people to live in a new way?

Did Jesus’ life mean anything, or was it just a waiting period until he died?

What is the point of following Jesus if following Jesus is impossible?

Does Paul understand Jesus?

Does Paul make following Jesus easier?

Is Paul concerned with peace?

Was Paul politically relevant and revolutionary?

Did Paul support Rome?

Did Paul oppose Rome?

Did the first Christians participate in the military?

Did the first Christians want peace?

Were the first Christians relevant and revolutionary?

Did the first Christians oppose Rome?

Do we want peace?

Do we oppose Empire?

Do we love all people?

Can we love anyone?

Is love even real?

Does Jesus really think we can do what he taught us to do?

Does Paul really think we can do what he taught us to do?

Can a Christian justify killing another human being?

Is hope alive?

Can we participate in shalom?

Are you afraid of people in this world?

What does fear lead to?

What is the antidote of fear?

What does it mean to leave the vengeance to God?

Why do we distrust people who think that God is good, that God loves people, and that God wants peace?

God told the Israelites that they were chosen by Him in order to be a priestly people and a holy nation.  Priests show the world what God is like.  They demonstrate God to others.  Part of that demonstration is loving our neighbors (Lev. 19:18) and loving strangers (Lev. 19:33-34), honoring life, and protecting the poor and oppressed.  Being holy means being set apart, it means being different than the way the world operates.  Jesus tells us that we are a city on a hill (referring to a city of refuge or the city of God envisioned in Isaiah), a light in the darkness, and salt, which preserves life.  Peter tells us that we, as followers of Jesus, are to be a priestly people and a holy nation.  Peter sees Christians as people who, through Jesus, show the world what God is like and what it means to operate differently in the wold.  Paul tells us that our worship is active participation in healing the world through relationships (Romans 12), all of which is counter-cultural in his day and ours.

God’s vision for the world isn’t simply a personal vision for individuals, but a corporate vision for communities that change the world into what God created it to be in the first place – peaceful, communal, and good.  We need to weep for our world that they don’t know or don’t see the way of peace, in the same way that Jesus wept over Jerusalem.  We need to decide what actions will lead people to see the way of Jesus as a new and different way of operating in the world.  Together we can do greater things than Jesus did; we can also do much worse.

I don’t know what the right thing to do is most of the time.  I don’t know what it means to love those who are being oppressed and the oppressors at the same time.  I don’t know what actions lead to peace that lasts.  I do know that we haven’t seen God’s peace yet.  I don’t even know if killing people whose actions I perceive to be evil is loving or not.

Who is more important, the oppressed or the oppressor?

Can I really love both of them?

What does that even look like?

We have a long road ahead of us.  May we be people who are being transformed into the new creation that began at the resurrection of Jesus, knowing that this transformation will not be our doing, but the grace of God towards us on account of the incredibly loving and sacrificial (self-giving) example we have in Jesus.  If we believe that this is what God wants for us, let us submit our ways to the ultimately loving and serving way of Jesus Christ.

I sure hope tomorrow I have something else to think about.

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