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Evangelism - Myers Mott Maggay Linthicum        

Jesus and Paul on Mission of Justice

Excerpts are taken from Transforming Power by Robert Linthicum (IVP, 2003). For a longer version from the chapter, "Jesus is Caesar," click here.

     In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is committed to the bringing in of the kingdom of God (the shalom community). This kingdom will bring in its wake a grand reversal in which poverty and systems of domination will be eliminated and humanity will become all that God intended it to be. This reversal will occur through the intervention of Jesus as the one bringing about jubilee. Through his life and ministry, his empowering of people, his confrontation of the systems, his suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus will set the stage for the resurrection of humanity into 'the world as God intended.' ...

     "Each of the four Gospels presents a powerful Jesus. But each Gospel writer presents his own particular nuance of Jesus according to the particular agenda of that author. ... The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the marginalized Messiah. ... The Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as the radical rabbi. ... The Gospel of John presents Jesus as the countercultural Christ. ... What would happen if the church would reclaim for itself the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? How would the church be different if it believed that Jesus worked for the transformation of both people and their society? What would happen if we believed that God's work of salvation was as big as the totality of sin - corporate was well as individual; social, economic and political as well as spiritual - and that Christ had come to die for all of that world?" (p. 67-71) - see Luke 6:20-21, 24-25; 4:18-19

     "One of the most confrontational people in the Bible was Jesus. How confrontational was he? Well, simply consider the number of incidents in the ministry of Jesus that appear in just one of the Gospels - Luke. There are 133 stories or incidents recorded in Luke in which the adult Jesus figures. Of those 133 stories, 116 are confrontational in nature. The remainders are primarily miracles or commentary (for example, Jesus went from point A to point B). 
     "Of the 116 incidents in which Jesus was confrontational, 66 were confrontations of representatives of the religious, political or economic systems of either Israel or Rome, 45 were confrontations by Jesus of his disciples or followers and 10 were confrontations of demons." (p. 171)

     "Next to Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul was the most strategic player in the formation of Christianity. ... Paul was not only an outstanding theologian and builder of the Gentile church. He was also very sophisticated in his understanding of and use of power, and that use of power was built upon a highly developed theology of public life. ... To better understand Paul's insights regarding the church's role in public life, one must understand how Jewish and Gentile people in the first century A.D. perceived the world. ... Because Paul believed there was an open door between the spiritual world and physical world, he held that the governance of both worlds was also irretrievably linked. ...
     "Paul reminds the reader that when the Christians engage in public life, they are in 'spiritual warfare,' for they must battle the manifestations of spiritual principalities and powers that possess the political, economic and values-sustaining systems of Rome, Israel and all other societies. (Eph 6:12) ... In one of his letters to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote, 'For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power' (1 Cor 4:20). In Ephesians we see Paul systematically presenting what that single sentence alludes to in 1 Corinthians." (p. 127)

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