This past Sunday, my Sr. High students conversed about two conversing narratives using the idea of poverty as a jumping-off point for the discussion. The first narrative is that of society (American for this conversation although it applies to most societies in some way). The second narrative is that of Jesus. One of the amazing twists in the first narrative (that of society) is that the idea of a different narrative actually existed once. Our American culture tends to believe that at one time in ancient history people lived in harmony with God, one another, and with nature. Then people screwed it all up. Now, we have to look out for ourselves. Survival of the fittest is the game of the day. The lie that is present in this story is that harmony with everything is impossible now, so we should pursue the goals of society—the betterment of one’s self (at all costs). Jesus came into the world proclaiming that this lie is false. He came into the world proclaiming that society can be redeemed, humanity can be healed, harmony with God and unity with one another is possible. And the amazing part of the second narrative is that Jesus said that this story can be lived out in the midst and among people who believe and follow the first (society’s) story. In fact, that is the only place where it can be lived out. Some have taken Jesus’ words and found an isolated place and tried to form a "Christian" community. All attempts at that have failed. Jesus lived among the people in the midst of society. He proclaimed that God’s kingdom had come in the midst of the kingdom of the world.
As we move into the weeks ahead, we are going to explore and converse together about how this is possible. Admittedly, I have more questions than answers. What I do know is that most of living is a shift in perspective, vision, and values. It’s about seeing life, the world, and God differently. It’s about being forgiven and bringing forgiveness. It’s about being healed and bringing healing. Jesus went around bring good news into the lives of the down and out, the poor, the desolate, the sinners, the outcasts, and even the Pharisees and rich. He told them that life isn’t about possessions or morality or whole bodies or any other such thing. Then, he called people to follow him in bringing this message to the world.