Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Friend to all

...while the Old Testament undoubtedly contains many passionate expressions of God's concern for justice for the oppressed, it also contains warnings about the chaos which arises when there is no strong government, about the role of a just ruler in God's merciful guiding of human affairs, and about the fact that the victims of today's injustice frequently become tomorrow's oppressors. If we turn to the ministry of Jesus himself, it is of course clear that Jesus shocked the established authorities by being a friend to all-not only to the destitute and hungry, but also to those rich extortioners, the tax-collectors, whom all decent people ostracized; that the shocking thing was not that he sided with the poor against the rich but that he met everyone equally with the same unlimited mercy and the same unconditioned demand for total loyalty. If we look at the end of his earthly ministry, at the cross, it is clear that Jesus was rejected by all-rich and poor, rulers and people-alike. Before the cross of Jesus there are no innocent parties. His cross is not for some and against others. It is the place where all are guilty and all are forgiven. The cross cannot be converted into the banner for a fight of some against others. And if we look to the beginning of his ministry, to those mysterious days in the desert when he was compelled to face the most searching temptation to take the wrong course, one could sum up the substance of the suggestions of the Evil One in the phrase I have already quoted: "Begin by attending to the aspirations of the people."

Lesslie Newbigin. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, pgs 150-1
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