this post is a continuation of our solidarity series in which we are exploring the teachings of jesus in relation to his commitment to the Other. for those interested in measuring the orthodoxy of such an adventure, click here to see my theological non-negotiables.
in the meantime…
do you remember the story of the good samaritan?
it might help to refresh your memory. a teacher of the law comes to jesus asking how to inherit the abundant life of God’s kingdom. jesus helps the conversation along, evoking the ‘right’ answer from the man ::
love the LORD your God with a ll your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength,
and with all your mind;
and your neighbor as yourself.
this raises an important question, one asked by the scribe who had been instructing others in the way of YHWH ::
‘who is my neighbor?’
so this tale is woven by the son of God, toying with preconceived notions of holiness, cleanliness and the Other.
it turns out, according to jesus, that the Other is actually our neighbor, and we’re prompted to move toward them with a compassionate hospitality rather than avoiding them altogether (or even worse – moving toward them with a suspicious hostility unless and until ‘they’ become one of ‘us’).
don’t miss this. in the divine parable, the compassion with which the samaritan – the unclean, half-blood gentile who worshipped on the wrong mountain and was considered an apostate – moves toward the hurting traveler is the same compassion with which God moves toward humanity.
in the incarnation itself, jesus signifies God’s solidarity with all of humanity in the midst of (y)our brokenness. ‘while we were yet sinners…’
the story of the good samaritan flips the very concept of ‘us vs. them‘ on it’s head. at its end, jesus alludes to our mission today as ambassadors of reconciliation ::
‘Go and do the same.’
so what does that look like? some of us are asking this and other, similar questions. we readily acknowledge that we’ve found ourselves behind the eight ball in conversations with our neighbors – whether our neighbor is gay, divorced, worships differently, votes for the ‘wrong’ political party, or wanders across some other imaginary line that serves as a litmus test of being one of ‘us.’
in the following video and his recent book, brian mclaren seeks to provoke similar conversations, inspiring solidarity with the Other rather than indulging in an insatiable appetite to convert ‘them’ to ‘our’ way of thinking and believing.
his critics have already begun to claim brian has ‘gone even further left’ and ‘no longer stands for anything’ some even asserting that he ‘is CLEARLY not a Christian.’
the worst i’ve been called is a ‘self-righteous boob.’ unfortunately, i’m fairly certain the insults and accusations (true or not) will continue to be thrown in our direction.
but isn’t there a better way?
‘when your identity is oppositional – when your identity is based in your fear of the other – then it doesn’t matter if you put the label christian, muslim, buddhist on that – you have an inherently hostile identity.
my question is :: can we find a way of holding christian identity that sends us toward the other with love and hospitality rather than with fear and hostility.’
so i ask :: what do you think?