In the last post I talked about Jesus in the language given us by the Bible and theological tradition. In this post I want to offer further reflection on Christ using different language and images that bring home certain key but often forgotten aspects of his identity and work. The first is that I believe we can’t grasp Jesus properly until we consider him as a “problem child.” Yes, a problem child. And the other image I want to pursue is Jesus as God’s “subversive counter-revolutionary.”
First, Jesus is a problem child. I mean this quite literally. Anyone and everyone he encounters will have their minds and hearts teased, stretched, and or broken by his reality. No one can control him, he forces them respond to his reality. Just think about it: Mary and Joseph, the magi, Herod and all of Jerusalem, John the Baptist, the disciples, and almost any other character in the gospels have their lives turned inside out by him.
-Jesus is the question that overturns all our answers
-Jesus is the answer that confounds all our questions
-No categories anyone brought to him could contain him; every assumption about him was wrong
-the learned didn’t get him, the religious leaders didn’t want him, even his initial supporters, the common folk, couldn’t accept the way he called them to live as God’s people
And he meets us today as a problem child too! Until we allow him to question our answers, confound our questions, break our categories, and undo our assumptions, we too will never understand him, accept him, or truly respond to him. The Jesus the church often offers us is filled with our own ideas, images, assumptions, and categories, and such will never lead us to glimpse his reality or follow his way. Meet Jesus, your problem child, and mine. May he ever keep pulling the rug out from under us and keep us hurrying along to keep up with him!
Now to Jesus as God’s subversive counter-revolutionary. If you think this is far out, maybe it is. But at least I’m out there with good company. Listen to this:
“Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
That’s C. S. Lewis, friends, from Mere Christianity. And as far as I can tell, he is quite right. This fallen world has rebelled against God’s rule and set up shop here. God called Abraham and Sarah to parent the people who would be his agents is subverting the revolutionary designs of the rebels and effecting a counter-revolution reestablishing God’s will and way over what is rightfully his. Jesus is the one faithful Israelite who actually embraces this calling and carries it out with indefectible loyalty and boundless love. His birth marks the advent of God’s great subversive counter-revolutionary. “The rightful king has landed,” as Lewis says. And he calls each of us “to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
To know this Jesus, to cling to him in faith is to be summoned to serve as one of his subversive counter-revolutionary movement. I know this is not what we thought Jesus was all about, but it is. And the sooner we get clear on this, the sooner we can get on with what we are here to do. And that, at the end of the day, is all that matters.