Thursday, July 24, 2008

Still Musing about Jesus for President

On Tuesday night I went to see Shane Claiborne's presentation on his book Jesus for President. It would take me a long time to explain everything that he said and I think that he had a lot of very insightful, relevant, and challenging things to say... especially to people who profess to follow Jesus.

Afterwards I had some really great conversations with my friends and husband. I still haven't figured it all out and maybe I never will, but its kind of burdening me. (this type of thing usually doesn't leave my head until I come to some sense of balance). I normally operate in extremes, so this is a challenge for me. However, it seemed like Shane was asking us to operate in extremes and when I read the words of Jesus in the gospels I hear the same message... be a radical... live differently... be extreme in your following of another way of life...

So, here is where I am now. I wanted to email someone from their group and ask their opinion on this passage of scripture, but couldn't find an email address... so if you know who I should ask, please let me know.

This morning I came across 3 passages in Romans that are back to back... it left me more confused than ever:

Passage 1) Romans 11: 33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments...


This is probably the mystery part that I will continue to cling to... with hope and faith!

Passage 2) Romans 12 (all of it)

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought...
Hate what is evil, cling to what is good...
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse...
Live in harmony with one another...
Do not repay anyone evil for evil...
overcome evil with good...


Seems to be in line with living differently.

Passage 3) Romans 13:1-7

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established...

Their government would have been a Roman government, not a connected to christianity, but these Roman christians were asked to obey them... it even says, For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong..

anyone who has thoughts on how to make sense of this (if you have read his book or went to the talk it would probably be helpful) please post ;)

7 comments:

Hugh Hollowell said...

Traci-

While I am obviously not Shane or any of his band of Merry People, I hope I can shed some light on the issue.

Romans 13 does indeed need to be read in light of Romans 12. It is unfortunate that when the chapters and verses were assigned in the 1500's, they put that division where they did.

If you do the things you are told to do in CH 12, you will run afoul of governmental athority. The issue then is what to do about it when that happens?

Dr. king was often confronted with this verse by white Christians who told him, basically, to shut up, because the government is ordered by God, so the way things are (separate but equal, segregation, voting inequalities) is God's will. Obviously, this is rubbish.

Dr. king responded that he did submit to the authority of the state, by taking whatever penalty the state meted out as punishment for his disobedience of the law.

In other words, CH 13 does not tell us to always obey the law, but to always submit to the law. There is a world of difference between obedience and submission.

I hope this helps.

Shannon Smith said...

This is off topic, but it turns out that Mike Morrell knows Tom Davis, author of Red Letters. He (Tom) posted about him (Mike) today. You can check it out here.

Micah said...

hey traci,

Regarding Romans 13, I think a) Hugh is right on ! But, we need to be aware of a bit a trickery that Paul is pulling here. Caesar claimed titles like:

King of Kings
Alpha and Omega
Son of God
Prince of Peace

and a bunch of other titles we may be familiar with. Caesar claimed to be a god, and the origin of all things good and all power within the world, and when Paul says that governments get their powers and authorities from God, this is actually a very subtle and subversive statement. Paul is saying that Caesar has no real authority at all. Just something to keep in mind when looking at these things

Mip said...

Traci,
If you go to the JFP website, there's a link to their blog. I posted a comment with a question there this morning, and I haven't heard back yet but you have to leave your email address to comment, so maybe they eventually will.

traci said...

hmm... thanks for the feedback.

keep it coming :)

I am continually challenged to understand the context and of the scriptures that are forming my life.

Mike Morrell said...

I know I'm coming to this party late, but...

Want a wild-yet-faithful take on Romans 13? Check this series out from my friend Thom Stark. You can ignore the comments, but cut & paste the posts into a Word doc and read...it's well worth it!

Mike Morrell said...

Forget my convoluted instructions. The whole paper is available here...it really is a book, but one well worth reading!