Thursday, November 9, 2017

Where Jesus Died: George MacLeod

Many churches today struggle to reach out to the next generation.  In order to stay relevant post-enlightenment, the church has retreated from the fields of science, business, and arts and focused on developing the spiritual lives of believers.  While spirituality is important for the life of a person, the result has also caused the church to be further disengaged with the critical issues that affect our neighborhoods.  Platonic thought continues to permeate the church–somehow believing in Jesus became a first class ticket to Heaven. Really? More, one of the repercussions is for Christians to escape from the world and further live dualistic lives where we prize the sacred and denigrate the secular.  We are no longer living holistic lives when we do that.  This is a misunderstanding of the biblical narrative specifically God redemptive purpose in the world today and into the future. God desires to redeem and reconcile all of creation to himself and invites us to participate in that redemptive purpose.  This means, as God's redeemed people, we are to take both our faith and work seriously.  We are also to live incarnationally as the God-man Jesus did, 2000 years ago on earth. I would contend that to live disintegrated lives of faith and work is a failure to live out our God ordained purpose for us as his image-bearers who were created reflect His image into the world and back to Him.
George MacLeod reminds us of the importance of living out an integrated life where spirituality meets the marketplace. 

George MacLeod on Where Jesus Died

Only One Way Left (The Iona Community: 1956), p. 38. Jan 01 . 1970
The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse,and soldiers gamble, because that is where He died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about.

We are to be rooted in Christ and to grow spiritually to become mature Christ-like followers.  But also to Go!  Go into the world without fear for God is ahead of us, and with us.  To be in the world but not of it.  As "Church", in its original Greek meaning, is to be governors in the city who decide matters for city. Reflecting on the account of the blindman according to John 9, he doesn't begin seeing until he goes to the pool of Siloam (which means sent)--and after he goes, washes and returns he then is seeing. Essentially, it's not adequate to simply believe but also to connect what you do after you believe.  As Christians, we are not suppose to be clean and tidy or retreating or escaping from the world; we're supposed to be in the thick of it all–in the action with our hands dirty as MacLeod reminds us. And if you listen to your heart, you will know this is true.  Jesus Christ didn't seem to mind being in the messy world--I didn't say it was easy.    And it is only when we, as the salt and light of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit, embrace the world and live out our lives in the marketplace will His faith, hope, and love permeate throughout it.