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September 20, 2008

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Eric H Janzen

Excellent article.

Ah the Empire...guardian of the System. Now if the Church is to be a counter-culture movement representing the Presence of the Kingdom of Heaven as the foil to the earthly Empire then we seem to have an identity crisis on our hands. There is a struggle going on now within the Church herself for genuine Christian faith vs. a Political entity masquerading as the Church, an entity that is more than happy to submit to the Empire, its culture, values, and world view.

You don't have to go far to hear the frustration people are feeling with Church and I think this article shines some light on why. A Church that stands as a counter movement to the kingdom of darkness/Empire is something we can get on board with. But a Church that has nothing to do with the Biblical mandate simply feels wrong, offensive, and well...gross. Most Christians, I believe, want to follow Jesus, i.e. they want to love their neighbor, they want to help the broken and the hurting, they want to help feed and clothe the poor and the homeless, they want to care for the widow and the orphan.

This is not what the Empire wants, as the article points out, because the Empire is all about brute power. As Jacques Ellul would say the Empire's power is that of the Wolf: it can only understand domination and brutality. A Church that buys into the 'wolfish' values of the Empire and Empire culture cannot successfully be the witness of Christ that it is called to be; we cannot be followers of a System of Wolves and be followers of Christ the Lamb. When the Empire calls for War and Destruction the Church has no business voicing support for it. We must be those who have but one King: Jesus, and our loyalty to Him must be singular. No other power or entity can have our loyalty, and yes this includes the State. To be anything less than this is to fall well short of the Church we see in Revelation and throughout the NT.

fi

I was interested to find this article in Clarion. My brains aren’t up to the length and depth of the essay, but I dipped in here and there to get a flavour of the writing … something about the ‘power’ of the suffering love of God pictured in references to Jesus as the Lamb?
These past couple of weeks I’ve been on a quest to discover what kind of prayers are going to unlock physical healings in our community and God keeps directing my attention to the Lamb.
First in my thoughts is that I’ve been taught over the years to be ‘aggressive’ in my prayers against sickness. But it doesn’t come easily to me; truth is I’m more of a bleater than a roarer. (Sigh)
And then I consider, ‘what if I could learn the prayers of the Lamb?’
In my imagination I stand with John the Baptist in the Jordan River and watch Jesus approach. Now why did John announce ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ instead of ‘Behold the Lion of Judah’? There’s hardly any reference to God as Lamb in the O.T., and besides Jesus was supposed to be bringing in a new Kingdom and showing us God’s authority.
I can scarcely breathe as the Lamb enters the water and asks John to baptise Him. I just can’t imagine what this means! Can’t fathom the quality of obedience and humility in Jesus. There seems to be so much power in this simple act; asking us to plunge Him under the waters, and to pull Him out again. An invitation to us all to follow Him into suffering and death, and through that into resurrection? And what if the River Jordan represents the River of Life (Love) that flows from the throne of God (and the Lamb! Rev.22) in Heaven? Can that cleansing River really contain the darkness of suffering and death? Or maybe the River transforms the darkness; reshapes the grave of pain and loss; brings light into the valley.
I wonder how different life would be now if Jesus had come as the Lion instead of the Lamb.
Have you noticed that the book of Revelation is just full of references to the Lamb? Only once did I find Him referred to as the Lion. But what if it was the other way around … if He was known first as the Lion and only once referred to as the Lamb. Wouldn’t that fit our modern theology better? Then it would be more understandable why C.S.Lewis wrote Aslan as a Lion …
And what about all our songs about there being power in the blood of the Lamb? Wouldn’t there be more power in the blood of the Lion?
Its interesting, isn’t it, that the God of the Universe would choose the way of the Lamb? Lambs are defenceless, rather stupid creatures who’s main function through history has been to feed (and clothe) predators (including humans). And yet … is there some mysterious, extraordinary power in God’s Lamb-ness which even outshines His Lion-ness?

Of course, Jesus is both Lamb and Lion, not either or. But I wonder how much of our theology these days really embraces this.
A lot of questions, I know.
Well, for me, perhaps there’s some secrets to be unlocked if I can discover more about the prayers of the Lamb, and maybe one day I’ll even get to hear His song. (Rev.15)

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