Friday, January 14, 2011

The Cross as Non-Violent Resistance

I am currently reading The Powers That Be by Walter Wink and am finding myself in deep reflection about the nature of evil and power in the world. Wink argues that evil maintains both a spiritual AND physical dimension in the world. I grew up thinking that evil and demonic forces were primarily a spiritual, cosmological matter, but failed to recognize the systemic evil inherent in our world in the form of power and corruption. We, as Christians, can easily subject evil to the metaphysical realm. We lack an awareness (either consciously or sub-consciously) of the systemic injustices of our societies, thus failing to reject and fight against these problematic and harmful institutions.

Wink speaks about the 'Powers That Be' in this world, saying, "They are good by virtue of their creation to serve the humanizing purposes of God. They are fallen, without exception, because they put their own interests above the interests of the whole. And they can be redeemed, because what fell in time can be redeemed in time" (Wink, 32). As I read this, I found myself thinking about the language we use in our communion liturgy: "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again." It seems that the work of Jesus on the cross is fundamentally an act of non-violent resistance against the spiritual AND physical powers of his day. Jesus' death and resurrection served to defeat the spiritual evil that we know as Satan, but also served to make a bold statement about the Roman Empire's lack of actual power.

Jesus' work on the cross should act as an example of how we might engage in our own non-violent resistance to the corruption and injustice of systemic evil in the world. We must find ways to humbly and prayerfully resist corporations, institutions, and governments that contradict God's plan for creation. We must recognize both the personal and corporate presence of evil in the world and individual lives, and counter these movements of evil with much thought, prayer, patience, grace, and love. For the Kingdom of God is not one that advances quickly through power and dominion, but starts small and moves slow, always emphasizing love and compassion over power and control.

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