God’s Way of Mutuality
Baptismal Vow: To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.
If we went to the grocery store to ask people what they think baptism means, they might say something like, “If we believe in Jesus we will go to heaven when we die,” or “If we trust in Jesus our sins will be forgiven.”
In 1st century Palestine, hearing the ‘good news’ was a common occurrence. It was the way official heralds of the Roman Empire announced the latest Roman propaganda”. In this empire, most all the land had been taken away from subsistence farmers and given to the rich. In this empire, 85% of the population was poor. This news was not really good for most of the people.
Jesus began his ministry with his “stump speech”:
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying,
‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
Jesus’ believed that God’s way for human beings to live— to live with each other and the planet that is in our care—was emerging and in-breaking. He taught that while the kingdom of domination was all around us and in us, that God was moving to change that. Jesus invited disciples to join him in announcing and living within God’s Reign of Mutuality.
Everyone was invited: Jews, Greeks, Romans, gentiles, Samaritans, the poor, the rich, the blind, lost, the confused, those who were too certain of themselves, women, men, children, and so on.
Everyone is still invited. Everyone.
In domination/submission culture, the ideal human is a powerful one. In mutuality culture, the ideal human is one who embraces life-as-it-is and who seeks to hold others as equals. Mutuality culture can be understood as an open circle with the cross in the middle. The cross represents God’s willingness to join us in the midst of our humanity and to suffer with rather than dominate us. Jesus’ whole life reminds us of God’s self-giving love.
None of us lives baptismal awareness fully. People in the Catacomb churches won’t either: Jesus expected us to get into conflict with one another sometimes. Nor is participating in God’s Reign of Mutuality an invitation to or an expectation of perfection. To think so would be only one more way to reject life-as-it-is.
God is the one who makes God’s Reign of Mutuality come. But when God calls us to participate, well, let’s do our best and rest in God’s forgiveness when we fail.
Read the Gospel Text for this week and Pastor Terry’s reflection or listen to the podcast. We encourage you to share your insights and questions on our Facebook page or on our blog.