“The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. … we are proclaiming Christ crucified – to the Jews a scandal, to the nations folly, but to the ones who are themselves called … Christ, the power and wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24)
With the example of the passion and crucifixion of the innocent Christ continually refreshed by their observant remembrance of His suffering, I marvel at the ease with which some Christians abandon their trust in those whom they have, by their good fruits, adjudged to be fellow members of the living body of Christ. I’m thinking of Judge Roy Moore, of course. During the solemn observance of Christ’s sacrifice, we who profess to represent his presence in our time remember that he was falsely accused and falsely condemned. Some of the people who did so acted unwittingly, carried away by their zeal. They did not recognize in Christ the authority of God, though God’s command of love was the very reason Jesus Christ was born, the ultimate motive for every word he spoke and every miracle he performed, as well as his patient endurance of every insult, defamation and tribulation inflicted upon him.
If the truth of our Christian profession is as the Apostle Paul found it to be, then the very power and wisdom of God, which the living Christ represented to the world during his ministry on earth, continues alive in our day. It preaches, instructs, nourishes and heals in and through the work of all who consent to be what Jesus was – living temples of God. In and through such people, by the power and wisdom of God, Christ continues to call sinners to salvation. He continues to inspire the salvific “folly” of those who live, but also suffer and die, so that people who have not seen may yet, even here and now, come to believe.
If I were here writing from the perspective of some ministry easily identified by all the world for its charitable good works, the possibility of such living proof that Christ’s obedience to the command of love still flourishes might not be hard to acknowledge, even for those who do not believe in Him. But in the political sphere, too many self-professed Christians question, or openly reject, the notion that that command of love even applies. Of course, we acknowledge that the vast resources and power now concentrated in the hands of government can be used for good or evil. We have opinions about policies that do good or harm in this respect and enter the political fray accordingly.
But we seem to have forgotten that Christ’s crucifixion actually came to pass through political machinations, by means reflecting the fact that His ministry explicitly challenged the legitimacy of any claim of sovereignty not rooted in justice and right according to God. To all Christians who rely on Christ’s model for prayer, this should seem highly incongruous. After all, the Lord’s prayer plainly avows to God “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Now, God’s Kingdom is the realm in which His rule applies. But all Christians trust in God’s truth – that by and through His Word, all things were made. So, where in all Creation does His Word not reign supreme?
It was for this good reason that Christ imperatively proclaimed: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice …” (Matthew 6:33). For the command of love focuses wholly on the love of God (Luke 10: 25-29), from which all other love derives (for our neighbor is the merciful power and wisdom of God, by which He saves us (Cf. Luke 10: 30-37). And the love of God entails obedience to His commands (John 14:21). Therefore, those who truly love God strive ever to abide in His kingdom, on account of that love. They prefer the authority of God to any merely human authority.
When obedience to God’s rule leads to shameful accusation, persecution and even violent death, the world that ignores or rejects God’s sovereignty sees such obedience as folly. Even those who profess to worship God may shrink from it, loath to endure the humiliation. But despite his innocence, in all truth, Christ submitted to be abused, all unjustly, at the hands of human powers-that-be, even while committing his Spirit into the hands of God.
Christ’s exemplary obedience to the command of love involved an unjust trial by accusation. So, when people who profess to be members of the body of Christ see one of their fellows boldly walking in the way of Christ, in pursuit of God’s justice on earth – what leads them to lend credence, first of all, to the accusations, and not at all to the wisdom and power of God, which is the presence of Christ in those who trust in him? Why would they be eager to believe accusations against someone whose profession of faith has born evident fruit in sacrificial witness to the justice of God, even before issues of fact and personal credibility have been examined and carefully considered?
The irony of such a lack of trust in the power of Christ to save is even more poignant in the context of a form of human government predicated on the wisdom and power of God’s Word, spoken into the very substance of all creation. Among the Christians who founded the original governments of the United States, this predisposition from God was taken for granted as anchoring the human vocation of justice we recognize as the exercise of God-endowed unalienable rights. It is the reason their communities trusted the transforming power of Christ to warrant the assumption that his mind effectively informed the actions of their fellows. So, until and unless clear evidence demanded it, they were reluctant to embrace any contrary conviction.
I wonder why any self-professed followers of Christ are presently inclined to trust the power and wisdom of the world in which we live. Does such trust in (or is it fear of, and/or dependence) secular powers mean that their faith has so far waned that Christians are now willing to risk crucifying Christ again (and again and again), on the strength of the malicious information those powers disseminate? Christ’s heart would no doubt again cry out to the Lord asking forgiveness for those who “know not what they do.” But self-professing Christians in our day should be wary of believing we deserve the benefit of the doubt in this regard, for God will have no doubt. Better for us to rely instead on the Golden Rule.