Jesus's "disciples" are His apprentices. That means, when we signed up to be a part of His army—this Jesus Movement we call the Church—we covenanted to do things His Way! Jesus's Way was to walk along the villages and towns preaching the Good News, healing the sick, and loving on people despised and rejected like Him. Jesus's Way was Not to put more rules on people on whom the Pharisees had already put so many—but to be ruled by Love. Jesus was in relationship with people who were different from Him: people the religious establishment called 'sinners.' Jesus's Way was Not to force anyone to follow Him, but to Invite them to follow him—to show them a better Way of being-in-the-world. This is what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.
When we, Jesus's apprentices, cozy up with the Empire and use their methods (laws, legislation, force) we are not following the Way of our Master: Jesus. Instead, we are following the ways of the world. All the kingdoms of the world operate the same way: By Force! Either you pay your taxes, or prison! Either you obey the laws, or prison! And, ultimately, every law is backed by the power of the sword to enforce it.
The Way of Jesus is not the way of the sword, but the Way of the Cross. Jesus's Way is to lay down our lives for our friends, our neighbors, even our enemies!! Jesus's Way is to triumph over Satan through unconditional, self-sacrificial love—because it is More Powerful Than The Sword! Jesus's Cross is the most powerful force in the universe—because it defeated sin, Satan, and reversed Death itself!
So, to love our neighbors the Way Jesus loved His neighbors (or enemies, if they are outside your empathy), is to advocate for them, to treat them with dignity as people made in the image of God, and to lay down our lives for them: demonstrating unconditional, self-sacrificial love for them.
That is the Jesus Way!
Image credit: Duccio, di Buoninsegna, d. 1319. Thief on the Cross, detail from Crucifixion, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=49168 [retrieved March 30, 2013]. Original source: www.yorckproject.de.
Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.