By Berry Friesen (February 11, 2015)
Jesus broke evil’s stranglehold, enabling us to break free of its power and imagine other ways of living. In the words of the Apostle Paul, Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them” in the cross (Col. 2:14-15). That’s how Jesus changed the world.
Yet every hour of every day, the empire tells us it has not been humiliated by the Way of Jesus, that it retains its legitimacy as the world's Savior and Lord.
So it brings us the story of a Jordanian pilot, burned alive by ISIS. By frequent repetition of this story, the empire reminds us of the horrors we may face if it does not make war on our behalf. Never mind that it sets people on fire too using drone-based Hellfire missiles; 13-year-old Mohammed Toiman al-Jahni, incinerated January 26 in Yemen, is one of its victims. And never mind that it burned alive many hundreds of thousands of people in Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, across Southeast Asia, in Fallujah.
And the empire brings us images of President Obama speaking gravely of the need to insert more weaponry into the Ukrainian conflict because of “Putin’s aggression” against the people of the Ukraine. The empire expects we will not take the time to learn that it was Obama–not Putin–who conspired to bring down the elected government of the Ukraine in February, 2014. It assumes we know better than to break ranks and identify Russia as the target of Obama’s aggression: NATO military forces all along its borders, global attacks on its currency, economic sanctions, and the arming of neo-Nazis on its doorstep.
“Wait,” you may be saying, “most Christians do believe what the empire is saying. But they also believe none of this has anything to do with the salvation of Jesus Christ, which is about our bondage to sin and about our eternal destiny, not the passing political issues of the day.”
You would be exactly right on all counts.
The empire still lies, still promises to “save” us from evil it creates. This Jesus did not change.
People who want the empire to succeed still believe the lies, still put their trust in the empire’s salvation and still carefully reserve life's "biggest" metaphysical questions for religion. This Jesus did not change either.
Yet the witness of the Second Testament remains, insisting that Jesus “has rescued us from the power of darkness” and “enabled us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col. 1:12-13). And as we saw in the quote in the first paragraph above, it was describing this life when it said those things, not another.
Nothing has changed, or everything has changed. Each of us decides which it is.