Pervasive Christianity and Empire


Jesus is more.

I live in a time of unchallenged empire. America is that empire, the only empire in the world at the moment. Now, it is an empire I love, the greatest empire. But I love fast food; just because something is great in one’s perceptions doesn’t mean it’s a good thing (or a bad thing for that matter). This empire reveals something else about the times: we live in a time where alternatives are needed. Democracy is slow and anemic. Capitalism has corrupted all of our souls. Technology has usurped all. And ideology has failed all. The world needs alternatives but better ones.

In light of American empire and this need for better alternatives the problem is, what can possibly be an alternative when we live in a time of dominant things (like the US, capitalism and technology) that are probably more revolutionary and more comprehensive to the problems they rule over? They rule over us.

This is heartbreaking to say as a Christian because the current state of affairs is not nearly as pervasive and revolutionary as my Lord’s earthly institutions, in a sense. The fact is the institutional, anthropological, and social alternatives built in his name by his followers are not more revolutionary or comprehensive than these dominate things. Don’t get me wrong, collectively they are but the perspective to see that means equivocating countless solutions that are not all of the same value. Maybe some examples will help here?

Think Catholic universities, World Vision and local protestant missions… They are all desperately at the mercy of the dominant powers I mentioned so far, and frankly they are less effective than the U.S. Military if it were to diverge its focus on to any of the concerns Catholic universities, World Vision or local church missions generally approach.

Yes, Jesus is more at work through those things than the dominate powers of the day but the case of Ephesians 6:12 seems to be more true than ever. We Christians are supposed to more subjugated by the power of God the Father working and willing in us by the Holy Spirit through his Son’s eternal work, more so than any other power the world may be under at a time. I very rarely meet Christians these days where that is the case, however. And against this backdrop Ephesians 6:18-19 comes to mind.

You can’t serve two masters but Americans are in a perplexing space, especially if you’re a Christian and American.

There’s this Karl Barth mug that says, “Jesus is the answer now what’s the question?” I have no systematic alternative or holistic revolutionary answer to the dominant power and powers of the day. And those who claim to our lying. But we know Jesus is pervasive and Lord of all. So the question I am challenged with is not that these powers exist but do I believe in Christ’s power? If so, I must recognize what Christ means in the current state of affairs in between his resurrection and ascension and our inevitable new creation.

Christ is the light of the world. And where that light shines in the darkness transformation is unstoppable. I once heard someone say, “we say we love Christ but do we imitate him?” Where Jesus is, he is pervasive. Where light is, darkness can not rule.

Sure, America is an empire and technology rules the day and these things have no justification for their place over our lives except where we accept them. It’s their burden to justify their power. Our burden is justifying our Lord’s love in our lives towards all things. In that I have much light to shine on dark things starting here on me.

Jesus is more. This means letting his Father, cross and Sprit have their say in all we do. Even to the empires that rule.

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