Jesus lived in a material world. His way challenged the “as is” structures of the day. Traveling those ancient roads Jesus encountered damaged life and those who inhabited damaged life described in the Gospels as, “they brought their sick to be healed.”
Christian vocabularies among various Evangelical groups tend to play down the materiality of Jesus. It is as if references to the humanity of Jesus must be asterisked. You do know he was God right? Maybe it is inadvertent; an attempt to avoid any hint of heterodoxy.
Over time I believe we witness a fear of the material. Follow the most popular eschatological visions today and see if they do not tend toward the anti-material, dis-embodied, spirit-only realities. Scot McKnight asks a good question as he works through Tony Thiselton’s book, Life After Death, and in light of recent emphases by the likes of N.T. Wright. But, those who follow Wright’s vision, and others who place an emphasis on the present realities of the future Kingdom, tend be to fewer than McKnight’s post seems to imply. At least those in the pew in Evangelical circles.
My last two posts (here and here) sought to emphasize the way a more radical vision of the Way of Jesus appropriated by Paul may intersect the real world using two particular current affairs – Piper/Driscoll and Komen/Lifeway. My interest in pressing the issue is represented by the little guy in the photo, here dubbed “Chairman of the Board.”
Cohen sat in my office chair last Sunday following worship at Snow Hill. I could not help but snap the photo with my phone. One day I am hopeful he will be able to connect a living faith in Jesus that connects with the material world in the way his little body really sits in that chair.
Maybe he will learn the story of Jesus healing the Leper in Mark 1, the Gospel text for this Sunday. Had Jesus only been interested in looking up he would have missed the man calling from below. Maybe this should help us avoid neglecting those living in damaged life as we think theologically about life and how we may then bring the future realities of the Kingdom to bear as fully alive in the present – material reality.
Jesus’ action was not without risk. We all face moments where we must decide what the most loving thing we could do in the instance when we hear the call from others in need of loving action. And, that is precisely what the Leper was doing in the story. He looked to Jesus for help. Jesus risked his own participation in the environs of the then practiced religion in order to demonstrate his love for others. Materially. Really. Then. There.
We hope to gift Cohen and Max with a real, material faith in Jesus that points to all possibilities when we love as Jesus loved. We hope they see that from us, in us, and around us.