Worship as Subversion

During the early centuries of the church Caeser-the head of the Roman state- was considered divine. It was therefore expected of citizens of the empire to give allegiance to Caeser and to the civil religion revolving around him. Jesus followers didn’t, however, and for this failure the early Christians were called atheists-godless-and persecutions came in waves.  On page 217 of his book Simply Jesus, N. T. Wright gives us insight into why. Wright observes:

“All kingdom work is rooted in worship. Or, to put it the other way around, worshipping the God we see at work in Jesus is the most politically charged act we can ever perform. Christian worship declares that Jesus is Lord and therefore, by strong implication, nobody else is. What’s more, it doesn’t just declare it as something to be believed, like the sun is hot or the sea is wet. It commits the worshipper to allegiance, to following this Jesus, to being shaped and directed by him. Worshipping the God we see in Jesus orients our whole being, our imagination, our will, our hopes and our fears away from the world where Mars, mammon, and Aphrodite (violence, money and sex) make absolute demands and punish anyone who resists. It orients us instead to a world in which love is stronger than death, the poor are promised the kingdom, and chastity (whether married or single) reflects the holiness and faithfulness of God himself. Acclaiming Jesus as Lord plants a flag that supersedes the flags of the nations, however ‘free’ or ‘democratic’ they may be. It challenges both tyrants who think they are, in effect, divine, and the “secular democracies” that have effectively become, if not divine, at least ecclesial in that they try to do and be what the church is to do and be, without recourse to the one who sustains the churches life. Worship creates-or should create, if it is allowed to be truly itself-a community that marches to a different beat, that keeps in step with a different Lord.”

Put another way, to proclaim Jesus as Lord, to worship him as Lord and to obey and follow His teachings is politically subversive, for to do so is to declare that Caesar, SCOTUS, or any other earthly power, AREN”T.

The implications of this are staggering!!

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