We enter into a season focused on Christ’s human possibility as a defiant alternative to the human self proposed by the dominant values of our culture. Our culture offers an autonomous self accountable to none; the new self in Christ is accountable to God in obedience. Our culture offers an anxious self who is never safe or adequate; this new self is safe with God. Our culture offers a self that is one-dimensionally profane in self-regard; this new self is authorized to holiness in attentiveness to the poor, the neighbor, and finally the enemy.
These readings tell the tricky truth of the gospel. What we want and seek in our society (safety, joy) is offered in the gospel, but the requirements for that self countermand the illusions of our society. The gospel authorizes an alternative world where God's holy presence and reliable comfort prevail.
Walter Brueggemann, a Sojourners contributing editor, is professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.
[ February 6 ]
The Jesus Community
Isaiah 58:1-9a; Psalm 112:1-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-16; Matthew 5:13-20
Paul's meditation on the crucified Christ leads him to see that his death discloses "what is truly human," a humanity that contradicts the conventional way of the world (verse 11). Such human persons—grafted into the self-giving death of Christ—live differently in the world, according to "the Spirit that is given by God" with "gifts bestowed on us by God" (verse 12).