In light the continuing discussion about the interplay of orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the last two posts, I came across this quote in Rowan Williams' Tokens of Trust. As always, the Archbishop of Canterbury strikes what seems to be a good balance:
What Jesus was remembered as having stressed was that the kingly rule of God was about to arrive and break in to the human world. We were about to learn what it was for God to be king, what it was to live under his rule and no one else's. And Jesus' bold proposal was that living in a world and a community in which God was king was something very simple. To live in this world was what happened when you said 'yes' to what Jesus himself was saying and offering; to live under the kingship of God was deciding to live in the company of Jesus and trusting what he said about God and about you.This last bit, about our relationship to the Powers, seems important to reflect on in light of the coming July 4th celebrations. The quote continues along these lines:
Trust this, live in Jesus' company, and you become a citizen of a new world, the world in which God's rule has arrived. You will still be living in the everyday world in which many other powers claim to be ruling; but you will have become free of them, free to co-operate or not, depending on how far they allow you to be ruled by God. And what you do and say will become a sign of what is coming. Your life will give a foretaste of God's rule; and it will be directed to inviting as many as possible to come under the same rule, and to resisting the powers (natural and supernatural) that work against God and seek to keep people in slavery.
The famous text known as the 'Beatitudes' in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel ("Blessed are the poor in spirit...") isn't so much a list of rules to follow; it just tells us what sort of lives show that God is in charge--lives that are characterized by dependence on God's goodness, that show forgiveness, single-mindedness, longing for peace and for justice, and patience under attack. People who live like this already belong in the new world: the kingdom is theirs. And, as this ought to make clear, this message is both a very sharply social and political one, and one that will never be captured by political and social reform alone. The changed life that these texts outline will challenge all sorts of things in our present world, but the change in question is one that can only begin in a personal yes to what Jesus is saying and offering.