Christians have always been called to battle against larger forces. We are called, not to rule, but—as C.S. Lewis put it—to sabotage.
with Fr Mark Baumgarten
A lot of people tend to think of Christianity as something very mainstream – something old school and out-of-date. And indeed, I’m the first to admit that the history of Christianity has been rather messy at times. But for all the human messiness, at the heart of Christianity remains the person of Jesus Christ. And it’s impossible to have a genuine encounter with Christ and fail to see just how counter-cultural he really is – how he turns conventional wisdom completely on its head.
The Kingdom that Jesus ushers is one in which the first will be last, and the last will be first; in which the poor and the merciful are blessed; in which humility is preferable to fame; in which the offering of service is preferable to being served; in which the perspective of our heavenly Father is more important than the eyes of others; and in which the path to Eternal Life goes through the Cross. Christ called his followers “the Church”. The Greek word is ecclesia—which means the “called out” ones. That is to say, called out from business as usual.
Here’s a quote from C.S. Lewis, describing the place of Christians in this world:
“Enemy-occupied territory: that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
The rightful king has landed, and he’s calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.
In our secular culture many believers fear that we’re losing ground; that our society has squandered a grand inheritance from our ancestors. This may well be true, but in another sense we were never really winning. Christians have always been called to battle against larger forces. We are called not to rule, but—as Lewis put it—to sabotage – to plant seeds of the Gospel that eat away at business as usual. We were never promised earthly victory. As Mother Teresa so often said, we are not called to be successful, but to be faithful.
Now let’s be clear – we are not anarchists. We do not advocate disorder. But we are servants of a higher order. Though we can and do love our respective homelands, they in some ways remain foreign countries to us, for we are ultimately citizens of a higher country that is our true home.
And on some level this passing world knows that we do not belong to it, which drives the world crazy, because it means the world has no lasting control over us. And so, as Jesus warns us, the world may treat us in ways that are far from neutral.
But we draw our hope from the fact that Jesus has already conquered the world, by letting the world destroy him on the cross. We are soldiers of Christ, and—like Christ—our weapon is self-sacrificial love. We can participate in Christ’s victory by receiving the world’s hate and fear, offering it to Christ, and letting him transform it into forgiveness and peace – a peace that the world cannot give, and a peace that the world cannot take away. In doing so we will indeed be agents of divine sabotage, and witnesses to a higher kingdom. For us Christians, this is our humble calling, and it is our immense privilege.
Thanks for watching, and until next time, be a saint!