About Me

My photo
Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

Popular Posts

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Speaking the truth in front of witnesses is a primary strategy of community organizing. I first read someone attribute it to Jesus in Robert Linthicum's book, Transforming Power. (To find a local independent bookseller where you can order this book, go to Booksense). I wondered as I read it last fall whether Linthicum was stretching the scripture text to tie it in with community organizing. I read the Bible texts he offered (three confrontations in Matthew 21:23 through 22:46, discussed on pp. 81-86), and it seemed that his reading made sense. But I was taking my time in thinking it through.

A few months later I started listening to the Gospel of Luke on CDs. It was a new translation called ESV (English Standard Version). When I got to chapters 3 and following, I heard some key language that previously had seemed like "filler" when I had studied it. After John preached very harsh words of judgment, the text said the people heard it as good news! A couple of verses followed which said that Herod did not think it good news, so he had John jailed.

Suddenly I saw it--in John's preaching as depicted in the gospel. Harsh words of judgment, coupled with promises of the Jubilee, led the "people" to rejoice in the coming of salvation, while the powerful--rulers and religious leaders--did not rejoice, and often became angry. John was speaking the truth to the crowds in front of the poor and oppressed and in front of the rich and oppressors at the same time. The ones in power really hated it when he did that.

The next chapter gives a parallel example from Jesus' preaching. In Nazareth, he gets up to proclaim the Jubilee. It is good news to the poor. It is bad news, or at least they think it is, to the rulers of the synagogue and the powerful. When they start mumbling and criticizing the sermon, Jesus calls them the "prophet killers." They get mad enough to try to kill him right then, but Jesus gets out through the crowd, most of whom rejoiced in his message.

As the early Baptists (and others) often said, "God still has light to shed upon the scriptures." As long as humans are reading, God will need to shed new light.

No comments:

Baptist Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf
Christian Peace Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf