Sharper than a Sword

"We must re-vision Christian faith as a combative, argumentative, and emancipatory" practice that seeks "the well-being of all." Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza's words, in But She Said, only sound new because they have been forgotten; as Paul reminds us, they have been with us from the beginning: "Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). Our faith has always been born of the truth's struggle to emerge in a broken world, and only the living word of God is sharp enough to separate truth from ego, wisdom from false teaching. As we shall see, it is often the community of the faithful who are most in need of its power.

We will first witness the Israelites' loss of vision and longing for the comforts of slavery (Numbers 11:4); later, the disciples themselves become preoccupied with their own ambition, arguing about who among them is the greatest (Mark 9:34) and demanding to share in Jesus' glory (Mark 10:37). Even the actions of the early Christian community will compel James to ask, "Have you not...become judges with evil thoughts?" (James 2:4).

Each of these instances brings confrontation, including with God. An exasperated Moses demands: "Why have you treated your servant so badly?... Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them?" (Numbers 11:11-12). James does not mince words: "Do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?" (James 2:1). And Jesus has no problem enlightening the disciples: "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things" (Mark 8:33). But the most surprising voice comes from a woman who confronts Jesus' own lack of mercy: "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs" (Mark 7:28).

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 2003
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