Friday, June 16, 2006

The Complex Christ And The City

Kester observes God’s changing attitude towards the city, as locus for and symbol of human rebellion and declaration of independence: a move from revolutionary intervention – the shock and awe destruction of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jericho – to evolutionary subversion and ultimate redemption, starting with Jesus’ refusal to shock and awe Jerusalem by jumping from the top of the temple, and culminating with the new Jerusalem, the eternal dwelling-place of God with humanity. [In fact, I think God’s attitude first shifts at Nineveh, with Jonah struggling with the change in well-rehearsed tactic.]

Unless I’ve missed it, Kester doesn’t identify Jesus’ upbringing as a key stage in this evolutionary process. But Jesus was raised by a house builder, at a moment in history when Galilee was experiencing massive population growth due to encouraged economic immigration, with the attending building boom. If Jesus didn’t actually apprentice to Joseph – and he may well have done – he would not have been unaware of an urban explosion, the so-called Ten Cities or Decapolis. And, of course, at the Last Supper Jesus tells his disciples that he goes ahead to prepare rooms – to create space for living in – for them in his Father’s house. Surely his earthly upbringing shaped his sense of strategy?

Do we engage with the city; take a part in its growth and its regeneration? Or is it going to hell, and we must focus our energy on extracting souls? How might the Kingdom break in, rather than us find a way to break out?

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