Brian McLaren spoke after lunch today….
My unedited notes:
Throughout human history , the paradigm has been: people without power are hurt by people with power. So they use the selfish assumptions and violent methods of the powerful to claw themselves into power… so that by the time they have arrived, they themselves are just as violent and oppressive as the ones they have replaced.
It would be easy for this revolution to be the same — for it to be another outbreak of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless — but ultimately if it still uses violent methods it will fail.
Mark 1: The good news of kingdom — has come near — repent and hear good newss.
John Baptist came and began to immerse…
Brian asks (ironically) Why is there so much filler — why is John the Baptist relevant?…
Then again, maybe it’s not filler after all.
On a plane recently, Brian sat next to a guy — asked him what he did, he said, “I’m one of the top 3 experts on the genetics of the fruit fly in the world.” 🙂
So Brian asked him to talk about his field and he was delighted to tell him what about it that was exciting.
Among other things he said: “they say there’s junk DNA — but that’s wrong. There IS no junk DNA. First, there is a lot of DNA that we simply don’t know what it does.
Then, there are parts that seem to fill an important role in the timing and alignment of strands. They peel and break and when you analyze it, you find that the DNA needs these strands to unpeel and connect. Their function is to help the DNA strand stay together and keep in time.
The details that seem like filler are like that. For example: — John the baptistt.
John didn’t invent baptism — it was common to Israel — ritual washing.
If your child came to you with a cut and you got blood on your skin — you were unclean. If you were a woman and had your monthly cycle; if you encountered a dead body — you were in need of ritual purification.
Who did this? the Priests. Where? at the temple
What was unusual about John the Baptist was not that he did immersing, but where — not in temple precincts but in Jordan river..
He was saying, this brown water is pure compared to the religious establishment — I look like a wierdo — it’s the priests who are the ones who are defective.
And then Jesus came and was baptized by John. He was validating John, and more than that, he was adding that John, who had condemned Herod for his immorality, was right in his condemnation of not only the religious establishment but thee civil as well.
When Jesus was baptized at Jordan is was thus an affirmation of the Kingdom of God — both a political and religious establishment…. not a new religion but a new kingdom.
Jesus was establishing an entirely new way of life — something radical. We’ve domesticated it but it’s truly a revolutionary message.
Luke 1:46-53 — the words of Mary. Mary praises God for being “mindful of the humble state of his serveant…his mercy shas
he has scattered those who are proud …
he has brought down rulers from their thrones
buth he has lifted up the humble”
but has sent the rich away empty”
What is Mary saying?
That the economic system is turned upside down by God.
and that He has toppled the rulers from their seats, while exalting the poor..
Luke chapter 4 – Jesus reads in the temple:
“spirit of Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; freedom from prison, recovery of sight to the blind”
Jesus warms the hearts of his Jewish audience at first by – proclaiming favor to the poor… the Jews could identify with that since the Romans were oppressing them.
But then, Jesus made his public relations team shake their head because he offended his audience with his next statement: Elijah and Elisha didn’t do their miracles for their Jewish citizens but for two Gentiles in their midst . At this they were ready to stone Jesus.
It was revolution Jesus was talking about.
We domesticate the revolution and turn it into something tame and harmless to the status quo.
We should not gather in little rooms to do things harmless to the world;
our real ongoing work is to proclaim liberty to the captives, good news to the poor
Yes, it is a message both to the powrful & powerless– each enslaved to their ownwn selves. But through most of our history, the Christian church has been the religion of the powerful.
Jesus doesn’t proclaim a revolution in the political sense.,
His is a revolution in the type of revolution we join.
A change, not through domination of others, but through personal transformation, outflowing into social transformation.
Lies are always told by religious, social, and economic leaders — Jesus’ truth shows all those things to be a lie..
Luke 18:18-23 — Think about the subtext. How could someone become a ruler – by collaboration with the Romans.
So this rich young ruler asks Jesus, “Good teacher — what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replies by asking if he knows the commands. He replies that he keeps the commands. So Jesus says, you still lack something — sell what you have and give to the poor. –
To this ruler, in that historic context, Jesus is saying: “You’re working for the powerful people. Stop working for the powerful and join me in my mission to the poor — in other words, “switch sides.”
The Kingdom of God message is for both the powerful and the powerless. Don’t follow in the paths of the world system, where the goal is power. In this model, powerless people claw their way to the top with the goal of benefiting the powerless — but in the process of seeking power, they become like the powerful. So that by the time you arrive in a position of power, you are just like the person you displaced.
Jesus proclaimed the message of a different kind of Kingdom — in which a small band believes and follows the example of the King. [KINDIG note: I think the gist of his idea was that “The transformation happens inside us. It is not a transformation we accomplish toward others, but that God accomplishes in us.”
If we don’t get the message of the revolution as Jesus taught us, we are exchanging old wineskins for new wineskins while we keep and cherish old wine. — [KINDIG: Here is my recollection and rewording of what Brian was saying: in other words, the old wine is the failed paradigm of trying to change other people through organizations we establish — trying to gain power “for the accomplishing of good”. Adopting a new structure for doing that will not help us. We need to abandon that paradigm, that old wine, and allow God to change not only the wineskin, the structure of our community, but also the wine, the goal and method of our transformation — from using power to change others to allowing God’s power to change us while we accept the other brothers and sisters in our community.]