559: JUST HELPING IS NOT ENOUGH

“A warm welcome to my personal blog “Zingcreed” in which I jot down notes on things I’ve read and people I’ve met. You are welcome to look over my shoulder and see what I’ve discovered. I’m trying to uncover what Jesus’ teachings actually were and if they have any relevance for us today, 2000 years later. I’m also looking for convergences between his teachings and the more modern teachings of such socialists as Karl Marx and Peter Kropotkin. To see a good guide to these unorthodox categories of thought you need look no further than the excellent Wikipedia entries on “Christian Communism”, “Christian Anarchism”, “Jesuism”, and “Christian Atheism”. These 4  essays form the foundations on which Zingcreed is based.

Today’s Post dates back to the Vietnam war era, 1971 to be precise. I looked at this book, “The radical disciple” because it had an introduction by Ched Myers, a very radical American Christian, whose book “Binding the strong man” I used as the basis of my Post “Jesus the subversive.” (It’s a good book to pick up after you’ve read the Wikipedia articles.) The author, a man called Bill Lane Doulos, whose name was new to me, must rank as one of the twentieth century’s most radical Christians; up there with Shane Claiborne and Lee Camp. Amazingly he is an Episcopalian (Anglican), and is employed by that church in the US.   Wonders will never cease. What follows is from the book “The radical disciple” (available on Kindle). I hope you find it interesting.

In solidarity,

Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.”

 

Even though Jesus is the personification of servanthood, the church that he founded is almost completely unconscious of what servanthood means. Let me make a somewhat artificial distinction between “helping” someone and being someone’s servant. The two concepts are actually radically different. Someone who “helps” does so from a position of superiority. We “help” the poor by giving a percentage of our income. We “help” the lonely by visiting them. We “help” the spiritually lost by introducing them to Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament God “helped” his people. He gave them the law and the prophets; he sent them manna from heaven; he gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. Most of the time we live, and we challenge our brothers to live, under the Old Testament concept of giving. For in all of these Old Testament circumstances, God retained his superiority; he retained his control of the situation; he retained his security. The scandal of the New Testament is the cross, that is, the servanthood of God— God no longer in the heavens, God given over to the will of men, God vulnerable to the world. This is not just a greater amount of help; this is not just giving 100 percent of one’s possessions rather than 10 percent. This is a qualitative difference. This is beyond “giving” and “helping.” This is becoming one with the oppressed, the lonely, the poor, the naked. It is significant that Jesus uses the cross as the supreme symbol of New Testament discipleship and that Paul conjures up the image of the cross when he asks us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, for this is the only worship that is reasonable and acceptable to God. There are some who will present themselves at the judgment as church leaders and counselors. God does not know you. You proclaimed but did not implement. Some will present themselves as helpers of mankind. You cast out demons. God does not know you. You helped, but you retained your life in the process. Some will come as little children, that is, with no credentials, only a pedigree: born of the Spirit. You will inherit the kingdom prepared for you. As we bear one another’s burdens— as we become burdened— we fulfill the law, the example, and the command of Christ (Gal 6: 2).

I am only beginning to experience the changes that the cross brings to my life. I suspect that it should bring many changes to your life and to the church as well. The concept of servanthood has begun to simplify my life. Much of what used to be meaningful to me has lost its determining role in my existence. I am no longer caught up with the necessity to read books or to attend meetings or to write letters or to make speeches. I am no longer concerned with the strategy of winning the world for Christ. I no longer share the organizational consciousness of the Christian movement. Of course I am overstating my progress (and one might be accurate in saying that I am inventing my progress), but I am citing the process of freedom that has begun to influence my daily decisions. The structure of my life, the structure of discipleship itself, is becoming meaningless to me. If this disqualifies me from my present work, that is no concern of mine. I do know that I am becoming qualified for the cross because my energies are freed up to serve people, rather than organizations, or standards, or preconceived ideas. I am led by the Spirit day by day as to how I can best love both friends and enemies, those who hold my convictions and those who oppose them. But I am not a slave to ultimate concepts or doctrines or positions.

Source:
Doulos, Bill Lane (2015-12-08). The Radical Disciple: Three Pamphlets Inspired by Koinonia Partners (Kindle Locations 375-377). Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Related Zingcreed Posts:
The causes of poverty according to Clodovis Boff
Red Christian documents #39: Voluntary Poverty (Gustavo Gutierrez, Peru, 1971)
US government muzzles anti-poverty campaigners
Structural ‘sin’
Crimes of the bourgeoisie #4: Resources go to the rich
Jesus and wealthy people

 

 

 

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