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Reflections on the Gospel November 25 2012

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters* again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ 34Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ 35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ 36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ 37Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ 38Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’

What I am Learning:

The nearest habitable planet is not only light years away, we haven't even found it yet. The earth is the only planet we have. We had better take care of it.

This text is a proof-text for those Christians who don't think the earth is important. There are many who see Christianity as an escape route from the earth - a beam-me-up-Jesus theology.

They read Jesus' words to Pontius, "My kingdom is not from this world" and think that Jesus is saying that God is not concerned with the long term of the earth and its ecosystem.  They interpret this text to mean that the earth is nothing but a proving ground for human souls to see who goes to heaven.

This view makes no Biblical sense. God creates the earth and calls it "very good." God calls Abraham and Sarah to be blessing to all the nations of the earth. In Isaiah God laments the destruction of the earth caused by the Hebrew people. In Colossians Paul writes  that "in Christ God is reconciling all things to God." In Revelation God makes a new heaven and a new earth.

God is committed to the earth, its plants, animals, and people.

So what does Jesus mean, then?

The word "world" here is the Greek word "cosmos." This word can mean the earth but it also refers to the cosmology or worldview of a particular culture. We use the word "world" in the same way. We don't always mean the earth when we say "the world has gone crazy." We really mean the cultural world of human beings and human actions.

Jesus is rejecting Pontius' worldview of domination, not declaring his disdain for the earth. If his followers held the same worldview as Ponius, they would be fighting.

Jesus' is proposing that we can live in God's Reign of Mutuality:

God’s Way of Mutuality is God’s love, grace, and shalom in everyday life, in every aspect of human relationship: public, private, economic, political, personal and communal, body, mind and environment.

He intends to spread this Way of Mutuality through nonviolent engagement with domination culture. That is not his way of plotting an escape from earth, but his way of bringing healing to human cultures that destroy it.

Here is the heart of the theology of the Catacomb Churches

•   God is committed to healing & creating the world

•   God invites us to participate in the creation & healing of the world

•   Our participation is one way God heals and creates us

Jesus is not calling us to run away from the earth and its problems, but to engage in them as he did.

He could do this because he believed in God's promise for a new heaven and a new and renewed earth. He lived out God's future in his life.

He calls us to live the same future.