Progressive Christian Social Action
Resurrection: The Mind of Christ
This Easter season has been filled with paradox. How can we understand and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus when ignorant or ideologically-driven men in high places dominate public policy and endanger the world? In the wake of the election of Donald Trump, who was supported overwhelmingly by white Evangelicals, the question for socially-concerned Christians is: How can the story of Jesus and the lived experience of the Risen Christ be relevant in this context? Today I point to the reality of the Risen Christ as an antidote to despair and paralysis, and as a spiritual motivation for the ongoing struggle for peace, justice, and the healing of the world.
The presence of the Risen Christ is the basis for Christian life. One way this presence is expressed is through the concept of the Mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16). The mind of Christ is a lived experience, an awareness of the presence of God, a tangible sense of the Holy Spirit. This experience itself is resurrection: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…”(Galatians 2:20). In words attributed to Martin Luther: “My head has been raised, my Head is Christ. My heart has been raised, my heart is with Christ. My tardy body will follow.”
Reflecting on the Mind of Christ also provides a safeguard against the faulty idea of a violent God. For those of us who believe that the personality and love of God are revealed in Jesus, our understanding of God must be consistent with the biblical view of the life and teachings of the nonviolent Jesus. Biblical literalism has no place here, but the overall “tenor and scope” of scripture, especially the stories of Jesus, point to a God of mercy and love.
What does this understanding have to do with the way we live our lives? Opening ourselves to the awareness of the Mind of Christ means living into the ongoing consciousness of God. It means living in a way that reflects the life of Jesus and his way of fostering inclusive community, even if it comes at great cost.
It’s important to remember that Jesus died in a way that was consistent with how he lived his life. After demonstrating compassion and confronting the Ruling Powers nonviolently throughout his ministry, he refused to back down when those Powers threatened him with death. In this way, he “gave his life” for others, for the the sake of the greater good, trusting that somehow, in some way, God could bring life even out of death.
Others have followed his example. Archbishop Oscar Romero, after being converted to the side of the poor in the US-backed war against the Sandinistas, said, “If you kill me, I will rise in the Salvadoran people.” This, too, is resurrection.
Living a resurrected life means joining in solidarity with all who seek justice, especially those who are most vulnerable, challenging injustice and oppression, and courageously following Jesus into the heart of the struggle for a better world. I, for one, plan to keep my eyes open for those outbreaks of spirit, those moments of social breakthrough, when people of many faiths and philosophies rise up together in resistance to oppression, with hope and determination. By courageously acting for justice, we participate in resurrection, working for a world that reflects the love that brought us into being, the love that can’t be extinguished by any empire, the love at the heart of the universe. In the words of the great hymn by Martin Luther, updated for our time:
Let goods and kindred go
This mortal life also
The body they may kill
Love’s truth abideth still
God’s kin-dom is forever.
This post is the culmination of my Lenten series, A Lenten Call to Resist. I began by writing Resisting Cultural Possession. I wrote later about The Suffering God: Where Humanity is Crucified and about Creation Crucified: The Passion of the Earth. In Conventional Wisdom: The Wisdom of This Age, I pointed to the ideology that rationalizes and the systems that justify such harm. I also wrote about The Subversive Jesus, putting into perspective why he was killed by the ruling powers of his day. I challenged the view of God promoted by the Religious Right in Rejecting Theological Sadism and in Jesus Was Not Born to Die, and presented an alternative in God’s Restorative Justice. Finally, right before Easter Sunday, I wrote about prayer and action in Good Friday: Contemplation and Resistance and Holy Saturday: Following Jesus. This final post is about Resurrection: The Mind of Christ.
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