Life is the Politics of Jesus

It’s now a week since the Paris attacks and it has been a tense week, with hateful rhetoric flaring up in France and Europe, and the US. I continue to have reservations about Islam and its compatibility with our western values, but I am dismayed by the level of hate speech that has contaminated our ability to look at the world situation with some semblance of rational understanding. What concerns me most is that some of the most hateful and divisive speech has been coming from people who claim to be Christians and have Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They forget Jesus’ warnings that he will drive away from himself many who call him Lord; and he will say to them those bitter words, “I do not know you.”

ISIS wants hateful acts against Muslims to spread in Europe and North America. The hate-mongers in this country and in Europe are playing right into the hand of the jihadists and will lead us into disastrous consequences. Why can’t we co-exist? The only way we can decisively defeat ISIS is by making them irrelevant. And we make them irrelevant by rejecting hate speech and actions that divide people. Paris is slowly recovering its joie de vivre. The cafés are busy again, the Eiffel Tower is lit again, all the museums have re-opened. The dead are not forgotten, but life has returned to that city of life and lights. It reminds me of the words we announce at the Easter midnight Liturgy:

Ανέστη Χριστός και ζωή πολιτεύεται!

Christ is Risen and life reigns!

The Greek word πολιτεύεται actually means much more than ‘reigns’; it’s impossible to translate concisely into English. The word comes from the same Greek root that gave us our word ‘politics’. So yes, the resurrection of Christ brought life to the throne that governs human existence. At Easter midnight we proclaim that life and life only is the politics of Jesus! The resurrection of Christ showed the emptiness and vanity of all human attempts at power and control. The resurrection is the negation of the politics of hate and fear. So why do so many Christians prefer to follow the politics that reject the power of Christ’s resurrection?

If only Christians could be people of the resurrection again – not the resurrection of the ‘second coming’ that many Christians wait for with baited breath (the ‘Rapture’ nonsense), but the resurrection of Jesus and the power that it unleashed. The power to live as agents of new creation, to be peacemakers, to shelter the homeless and feed the hungry, to tear down boundaries and the walls that separate instead of building more walls. Where in the reactions to the Paris attacks do we hear anything that elevates life? Where is the teaching and vision of Christ in the hate talk of many ‘Christian’ politicians and citizens of this and other countries`?

I have concerns about Islam, just as I have concerns about much that passes as Christianity today. But when I allow my concerns to dominate my thought and estrange me from the spirit of Christ then I’m just a step away from becoming like the hate-mongers. I don’t have a solution to what is going on in the world. I have no answer to the challenge of separating dangerous extremists from ordinary Muslims and Syrian refugees who simply want to live in peace and productivity. I have no answers, no solutions. I only have my faith in Jesus Christ. Sorry if that sounds naive and inadequate, but the message remains:

Ανέστη Χριστός και ζωή πολιτεύεται!

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