Some Advent Thoughts

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From the Notebooks

Advocates from across the political field have claimed Christ for their side: Communists, Socialists, Liberals, Conservatives, Monarchists. They all can find something in Christ’s life or his words to support their political vision. It isn’t surprising, of course, since every doctrine, no matter how absurd, has at least a kernel or two of truths, and every truth is tied to the One Truth that was Christ.

Christ was crucified for a reason, and it wasn’t because he went with the stream. He assured listeners, after all, that he is the Life, and live—not dead—things swim against the stream.

So where to start with this lively and kicking instigator?

I say: his birth.

Born in a lowly manger with shepherds surounding, but with kings arriving to give him gifts. The poorest and richest came together. Hardly a conventional beginning. He was a man sent to disrupt the status quo. Even a ruthless dolt like King Herod knew it, ordering the slaughter of newborns everywhere, in hopes of catching the infant troublemaker in a web of death.

As a boy (just 12), he amazed the scribes and pharisees with his learning. He wasn’t from the priestly class. Where did he learn everything he taught them? For that matter, what kind of boy calmly ditches his parents for a few days so he can converse on the lofty things? He was out-of-step.

When he started his public ministry at age 30, people started to see the true radicalness of his message. He socialized with tax collectors and prostitutes. He told people to love their enemies. He forgave sins that hadn’t been committed against him. The temple authorities hated him. It’s safe to say the temple money-changers—whom he whipped with cords—didn’t care for him either.

But he never did anything political. He never criticized the civil government and took no part in the Jewish movement for national liberation.

Even his most earthly acts, the famous miracle healings, were devoid of any sort of “social justice” or bigger effort at reform. He didn’t try to eradicate human suffering or death, to “find a cure.” He just cured the individuals that were brought to him, and also forgave their sins, showing the two are tied together. And since sin defeats virtue and other-worldly salvation, these acts of earthly mercy aren’t pointed to the earth at all, but rather to the decidedly un-political next world.

A great theologian once described Jesus’ acts in this way:

Jesus does not champion the cause of the free individual against society. He does not stand for the heart as against the law. He does not side with the outcast against the prudent and respected. He does not consider the sinner as such more valuable than the virtuous. Jesus is far from both romanticism and class-consciousness. He is interested only in the individual soul whom he places before God.