Yesterday, we re-witnessed—in more horrifying detail—the brutal violence of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It was worse than we thought, yet mercifully and thanks to Capitol Police not as bad as it might have been. It was yet another painful reminder of the deep divides in our country and the question of how or if effective bridges can be built.
This morning I got a much needed infusion of hope from reading these reorienting words from The New Testament in Its World:
“. . . the inbreaking kingdom Jesus was announcing created a new world, a new context, and he was challenging his hearers to become the new people that this new context demanded, the citizens of this new world. . . .
The work of the kingdom is in fact summed up pretty well in the beatitudes. Blessed are the poor, the mourners, the meek, those hungering for justice, the merciful, the pure-hearted peacemakers, and the persecuted. These people are not only blessed, but more than that, even in their vulnerability and weakness, they are the ones precisely through whom Jesus intends to transform the world. When God wants to change the world, he doesn’t launch missiles. Instead, he sends in the meek, the mourners, and the merciful. When God wants to put things to right, he doesn’t scramble combat jets; he calls people to love and do justice. Through those kinds of people the blessings of God’s reign begin to appear in the world.”—————————————————N.T. Wright and Michael Bird
This isn’t religious escapism, but a counter-cultural path forward that reflects the kingdom of God and the teachings of Jesus that he embodied and calls us to follow.
If you haven’t already heard of this incredible New Testament survey with its rich re-centering on Jesus, I encourage you to check it out. The book is big—5 pounds in all. Some Amazon reviewers are complaining about that. But I have a different opinion. I’m reading a couple of pages at a time, already knowing that when I reach the final page, I’m going to be sorry it isn’t longer.
So if your tank is low on hope these days, let Wright and Bird fill you up with the earth-shaking good news of Jesus’ kingdom and your own summons to follow him!