Author: Chad Hyatt
Reflection: v. 15, ‘believe in the good news’
‘Believing’ can also mean ‘giving allegiance.’ Perhaps we’ve lost the sense of just how political this language is because we’ve too often watered it down and overplayed it’s otherworldliness. But here’s a critical point: Jesus’ use of political language is subversive—and so is the picture Mark paints for us. He isn’t calling us to uphold the status quo. In fact, it’s just the opposite. When Jesus says ‘repent and believe the good news,’ he’s asking explicitly for an unequivocal commitment to his messianic cause—and an absolute forsaking of any other partisanship that might contend for our allegiance. Make no mistake about it, it’s radical stuff. But as much as Jesus is surely asking us to lay down our lives in whatever way such a shockingly revolutionary love might demand, he never asks us to take the life of another. Rather than kill his enemies, Jesus not only asks us to love our enemies, he goes even further, giving his life to save his enemies. A gospel that preaches that kind of love, even for our enemies, has no room for the false idols of Christian nationalism and white supremacy. No party and no politician deserves our unswerving allegiance—such things must not be allowed to take the place of the living God in our hearts and lives. And hateful, boastful ideologies that promote violence and dehumanize others certainly have no place in the church—or a healthy democracy, for that matter. The horrifying Epiphany of January 6 only brought into the light what has far too often been hidden in the shadows of white American Christianity. And it’s time we faced the truth. Nearly two centuries ago, Frederick Douglass named our unholy allegiance to these false idols of death: ‘I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.’ This Lent, let us truly ‘repent and believe the gospel’ and pledge allegiance to an alternative way of love in our badly broken world.
Prayer Liberating God, we renounce hate and pledge ourselves to love.