Friday, November 03, 2006

Turning the world upside down

It's hard work being Christian. There's so much to do, and so little time to do it! Which is why I'm not sure that it's very authentic to be a Christian 'on your own' - because there's a real danger that, when you're not sure what to do, you'd simply allow yourself to reach your own decision, which might well happen to confirm your current prejudices! Instead, we should subject ourselves to the views of others - we are called to build a community, which Jesus called 'the kingdom of God', where God's priorities keep upsetting our prejudices and challenging our assumptions. And so we need each other - for support, encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, but also for mutual challenge, as we face the hard work of being Christian together! ... And we know it's hard, because Jesus asks such tough things of us, things which are very different from 'the ways of the world'. For instance, a foreign woman comes to him (Mark 7:24-30), and at first even Jesus isn't sure about it - he seems to think his mission is for the Jews only; but she persuades him otherwise; and so this is a challenge to our prejudices: how do 'outsiders' prompt us to review our mission, to enlarge our vision? And then, when faced with disciples arguing about who's the best (Mark 9: 33-37), Jesus puts a child in their midst: here he demonstrates what it means for the 'first to be last' and the 'last to be first', because to put children at the centre of things starts to turn our world upside down: as the ones who suffer first whenever there is conflict, Jesus invites us to stand in solidarity with them, the vulnerable ones. It is a priority which churches still struggle with - which we even try to 'tame' by implying that he meant 'be innocent, just as children are innocent', as though we don't know any children! No, it is a decision to be in solidarity with vulnerable people, to see them as people, to put the least before the powerful ... what a different world; no wonder it's hard work.