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If qb Were Preaching Again…

16 May 2008

…here’s a preview of what qb would preach.  It wouldn’t be popular, but these are messages that red-state evangelicals need to hear, inspired by Hays’ unifying vision of the New Testament’s focal images of “cross, community, and new creation.”

1.  The Myth of American Exceptionalism.  The texts for this sermon are Luke 12:35-48, Mark 12:41-44, and Luke 17:1-10.  It is often said that the United States is the most generous country on the face of the earth, the most generous nation that has ever existed.  In the economy of Jesus, in the kingdom of God, we find that our riches are rightly seen as a stewardship, not a possession; if we aspire to fulfill the notion that America is a “Christian nation,” we must adopt a different attitude toward how generous we are.  In these texts from the life and teachings of Jesus, when we give from our abundance, we (a) have done only what we ought to have done and (b) have not even approached the ethical plane of the poor widow.

2.  The Folly of Loving Our Enemies.  The text for this message, of course, is Matthew 5:38-48.  If those who call ourselves disciples of Jesus cannot embrace this fundamental teaching of Jesus within our own communities, we have no standing to preach Jesus in the public square.  But what does it mean to embrace the teaching?  It cannot mean anything short of turning all of our energies toward the pursuit of peace, “insofar as it is up to us” (Romans 12:18).  But it is up to us – to an uncomfortable degree.

3.  What If We Couldn’t Pay Our Bills?  The text for this message is Luke 14:25-35.  The growth agenda of modern evangelicalism measures its success in terms of square footage, cheeks in the seats, and public notoriety; and it chooses its leaders on the basis of American-style capitalist assumptions, with charisma, management savvy, and corporate vision at the top of the job description.  What if Jesus asked us to lay all of that down?  What if he already has?  Are we willing to embrace a form of discipleship that, to paraphrase Dallas Willard, may result in a shrinking organization but more muscular disciples of Jesus?  Would such an ekklesia be worth the cost?

4.  The Bondage of Freedom.  The text for this message is Galatians 5:1-26.  Liberty may be the United States’ most cherished ideal.  But what happens to a nation where liberty is the end rather than the means?  The church must embrace liberty, not for the sake of doing what we want to do, but rather as a call to responsibility, stewardship, and enslavement.  We are not worthy of the freedom we have, and our communal choices prove it.

Remarkably, perhaps, qb believes these messages are fully commensurable with political conservatism, properly construed.  What do you think?


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