Recently, a co-worker asked whether we’ve reached the place in American culture where Christianity is seen as a fringe system of belief. I rattled off nine reasons why, if we’re honest, Christianity should be considered a fringe system of belief to those in the world at large. This Advent season, I’m exploring these beliefs and offering a somewhat surprising conclusion. Today, I'll explore reasons 5-6.
MY COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL, UNSCIENTIFIC, ORTHODOX, FRINGE SYSTEM OF BELIEF
POINT 5-6: We believe that Jesus was (5) convicted of claiming to be God, and (6) murdered.
It's a country run amok, one in a violent and tempestuous historical moment. The police, the government--all ruling authorities--are at odds with the people, and they push back waive after waive of protestors. The brown-skinned babies born under an expansive empire are opportunity-stripped. Some die under the hand of an authoritative, fear-mongoring government; others are relegated to menial labor, to service of the wealthier classes. Any attempt to revolutionize the system or seize opportunity is beaten back by the system itself. It's a world of oppression and sickness for most, and opportunity for only the elect.
These are the days into which Jesus was born. Sound familiar?
In the midst of all that injustice, God swung low. He came pouring revolutionary wine. He healed the sick, restored community to the lepers and the hemorrhaging. He taught good news in the temple, and bucked a legal system that would condemn an adulteress to capital punishment in the street. He showed mercy to those in need of mercy. He fed the hungry (5,000 of them to boot!), drove out demons, and calmed the storms.
He was God-with-us and the powers did not recognize him. They closed their eyes to his God-with-us-ness, plugged their ears to the Spirit and sang "la la la la la la la." They hauled him before the powerful Yes Men, the men elected to keep the status quo. "He claims to be God!" the rulers said, "let's crucify him." Producing no evidence warranting a conviction, and ignoring all evidence proving his deific nature, they rigged the trial and marched Jesus to a blasphemers slaughter.
This was humanity's darkest hour. The pinnacle of creation convicted the Creator, and then they murdered him.
The powers murdered God. And I fear they're murdering him still.
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