Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jesus Christ: Revolutionary, Liberator

by Tom Johnston

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
– Jesus Christ, Luke 4:18-21 ESV

It often surprises many people that Jesus is not just some mild-mannered teacher of moral values, but rather a spiritual revolutionary, the Anointed One chosen of God as the ultimate Liberator of humankind. That’s O.K., because it surprised the folks in Nazareth, too. Jesus, in his own words, declares Himself and His intention to upset the apple cart. He was not just another run-of-the-mill upstart young Rabbi just come in from one of those desert epiphanies. No, He was the Invader from Heaven, breaking in from the outside, intent on setting some things straight. In this declaration, He is throwing down the gauntlet in the face of the Adversary, declaring the coming of the Kingdom rule of God.

Seven Marks of A Revolutionary

It was not all that long ago in the span of history that America fought what has been termed the “Revolutionary War” against what was called “tyranny” and “oppression.” Jesus came to fight a much more significant war on a much grander scale – all the cosmos and the humanity it contained was the prize for which He waged war – not a war of this fallen world (cosmos = created order, see John 18:33-40), but a spiritual war which spanned the dimensions of reality (Philippians 2:8-11). Yet in this, Jesus finds Himself in the company of many members of humanity, perhaps the Founding Fathers of America included, who were radicals, revolutionaries bent on liberating people from oppression. Let’s look at some of the marks of such people:

1. He claimed Divine empowerment. He was not the first revolutionary, or the last, to claim such, but He was the only One who could do so in absolute, undeniable truth
2. He felt that He was specially chosen for His task. Many leaders throughout history have proclaimed the same, but none with the effect on humanity, or on human temporal and eternal history, like Him
3. He had a special focus on the poor – those who were spiritually impoverished as well as the economically disadvantaged and destitute
4. He led the largest jail-break in the history of creation, busting into the worst concentration camp ever to lead the captives to freedom (Ephesians 4:8-10). And to this day He continues to free men and women, boys and girls from the bonds of death and hell (1 Corinthians 15)
5. He brought a new way of seeing things, a new take on reality, that was not of the status quo. This challenged the religious leaders of the day – in fact it scared the gehenna out of them
6. He came to over-turn the tables of injustice, racial hatred and oppression – the oppression of humanity by the Adversary and the oppression of humanity by humans
7. He, with all authority, declared all the debt owed to the true King of the Universe was to be paid in full – and then He Himself paid it on the Cross

Jesus is the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world. But He is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And He is not a tame lion. Nor is He a circus lion, who can be taught to do tricks. He is a victorious warrior who defeats His enemies with a word and has a “take no prisoners” policy – because the liberation of the prisoners is why He fights. He is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, and is over all dominions, principalities and powers, in the form of both human and spiritual governments. He cannot be overthrown, ousted in a coup d’état, or subverted through a counter-insurgency – and the increase of His government shall know no end. He is utterly undefeatable. He is not a messianic politician, but THE Messiah. He is the ultimate Revolutionary because He is good, unstained by fallen-ness, untainted by personal agenda. His methods – hanging out with all the “wrong people,” having relationship with the “usual suspects,” are completely righteousness, because He is the embodiment of both love and justice. He does not wage war in the flesh or by the means of this world, but by service, self-sacrifice and speaking the Truth to us in love. And we are His revolutionary Army of Liberation.

Come Again?

That’s right. The Church. The Body of Christ. You – Spiritual Warrior of Love, Freedom and Hope. What? Not quite the image you had of yourself, or of the Church in the West? Could it be because the Church, born in the image of its Creator, having both lion and lamb characteristics, has forgotten its spiritual lion-hood? Is it perhaps because our self-perception is that we are grasshoppers in the eyes of the giants in the land? Is it because we think our culture too hard, too cold, too wealthy, too satiated, too disinterested – in other words too tough – for Jesus to conquer? Is it because we have bought a defeatist and escapist theology that says it’s all downhill from here – and we all beam out just before it hits bottom, so hey, why bother anyway? Maybe it is a combination of these factors, and more.

Or maybe, it’s just because we’ve forgotten who we are in Christ. Or perhaps we have never really known. You are what you eat – and we have been fed an incomplete diet in our understanding of what it means to be a Christian. But not all of us have drank the watered-down kool-aid of spiritual passivity. There are lions in our midst – we know you are out there! It is time to believe in the call of God on your life as a liberator, to trust His Spirit working in you to revolutionize your heart with His love, so that He might revolutionize your home, your neighborhood, your church for His kingdom. The time has come for you to take a stand for the Liberation Front of Heaven and embrace the fullness of Christ in you – embrace the Lion. It’s time for you to stand up, stand out and wage the war of love. It is a time to take risks, to love with reckless abandon the lost, the hurting, the broken – the “wrong people,” the “usual suspects,” to champion again the cause of the poor – the spiritual poor and those poor in the things of this life (Jesus wasn’t kidding about the sheep and the goats thing in Matthew 25). It’s time to work to set the spiritual captives free – and to work to free those held captive by poverty, alcoholism, addictions, fear, hopelessness, and social injustices of every kind. It is time to see the new reality of God’s Kingdom life as real, and not a storybook fairly tale of something that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – or as something we wait passively for the Rapture Bus to swing by our stop and take us to the great-by-and-by. Yes, it’s time to even stand up to governments that oppress people through economic and political means. Where are the advocates in the Church for the Darfurs, the Sudans, the Rwandas? Yes, we know you are there, but you are distressingly too few.

And why should we concern ourselves with such things? After all, we each have our own stuff to deal with, right? The first reason is simply because it completes the work of Christ, pulling into this reality and into the lives of people the acceptable year of the Lord’s favor - the blessings of His Kingdom reign and rule. His Kingdom enriches, frees, illuminates and unshackles – and that reality needs to be demonstrated in and through, His Church. The second reason is just as simple – He has already begun doing these things for you. How could you but allow Him to do the same thing through you for others:

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” - John 20:21-22 ESV

So, go, you who are the Spirit Breathed-Upon, sent in the same way the Father sent Him: Empowered. Chosen. To the poor, the captive, the blind, the oppressed – in the spiritual and the natural – and declare and demonstrate the blessings of His Kingdom rule and reign. Remember, this is your God:

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
– Zephaniah 3:17 RSV

Go, be a revolutionary, a liberator, like Jesus.

5 comments:

Zack Wechsler said...

I absolutely loved it!! This is so in like mind with what God has been speaking to us. Blessings.

Peter said...

Tom,

This is great stuff!! May I ask if I could use this material in a book I am writing. You would not believe where I had to go to find positive and inspirational writings on Jesus.....when I came across this I leapt for joy!!!

Warrior of the Wall said...

I am actually doing a message in my church on Jesus The Revolutionary. This is the best inspirational work for my sermon (other than The Bible and Jesus himself)that I have found.
You hit the nail on the head. And I thank God that we are more than conquerors in the name of our King!

Anonymous said...

This is a great passage. It's easy to take in a new member, that already has the drive to know God. How easy is it to bring someone in who hasn't a clue. It's seems you can narrow the passage down with ...Love thy neighbor, as in anyone along your path

Anonymous said...

In what ways is Jesus revolutionary?