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Live In Such A Way As To Piss Off The Powers That Be

So live in such a way as to piss off Empire, and give up shame for Lent.

S2:E11 EPISODE SUMMARY

“Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Ouch. This is probably one of the harshest things Jesus says. Maybe even harsher than “Get behind me, Satan!,” which he also says in this passage. This is a tough one, friends.

We’re deep into Lent now, with all this talk of Satan and shame and crosses. What does it all mean?

Well, Jesus has just explained that he will have to go and suffer and be killed by the Powers that Be. And Peter is stunned and terrified and probably ashamed too. He doesn’t want Jesus to die, and he doesn’t want to follow a failed Messiah, for what success could possibly come from Jesus’s death? How would that overthrow the Roman occupation and usher in an age of peace and prosperity?

Jesus then calls Peter “Satan,” and basically says that he will return shame for shame. 

The NRSV translation removes some key words here. Jesus says to Peter, “You are a stumbling block for me.” Jesus isn’t rebuking Peter simply from a place of moral superiority… Jesus doesn’t want to die! And the more Peter balks at the idea of his death, the more Jesus agrees that dying sounds terrible and painful and shameful, so he is tempted to walk away. That’s why he bursts out and calls Peter Satan. He snaps back so that he won’t be able to entertain the idea of escaping his fate. Because the only way to escape his fate is to stop doing his work.

Jesus isn’t going to stop feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and building community around the marginalized. He’s going to continue to create a new world that doesn’t depend upon the imperial powers keeping some inferior so they can be superior. He’s going to continue to live in such a way as to anger the Empire… and that is what will get him killed.

He calls us to follow him in his way of solidarity and service. The outcasts and marginalized aren’t marginalized anymore when we go into solidarity with them. And the Powers that Be, who depend on being able to cast people out to threaten and punish and keep their power, don’t like that. So they impose the cross… an instrument of torture and shame. 

And Jesus says, “Take up your cross. Live in such a way as to piss off the Empire, and when they shame and punish you, refuse to feel ashamed.” It’s actually pretty badass. It has nothing to do with romanticizing suffering, and everything to do with counting the cost of service, and being brave enough to bear it.

Jesus says in no uncertain terms that he will be ashamed of those who would rather willingly participate in hurting others than be hurt for the sake of others. But what is the result of this shame? It’s not hell or punishment, but just the call to do better. Jesus will continue to tell us that there is more to us than our fears, and he will continue to push us to deeper levels of Love. That Love will inevitably lead to suffering, but it will also transform the world and ultimately lead to joy.

So live in such a way as to piss off Empire, and give up shame for Lent.

The Olive
Branch

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