This is the first of a series of posts where I re-imagine Jesus’ five big sermons as TED Talks, in which he Educates people in God’s new Design for a world that runs on the Technology called love. While Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God is a positive one, I’ve strived to preserve his apocalyptic flavor.
Blessed are the poor, because this oppressive political-economic system is going down in flames.
Woe to you who are rich. Same reason.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, because a big plate full of that is on its way.
Blessed are those at the bottom of the heap, because the heap’s about to get turned.
You are the salt of the earth; and from the ashes of this civilization, we are going to cook up something really tasty.
Do not think I am a doomer. I have not come to abolish your hopes but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth: Not the smallest good dream from the most obscure sage, seer, or prophet shall by any means go unaccomplished.
Humans have a long history of trying to build good and just civilizations, which have an equally long history of destroying themselves. Some among us today are experts in civilization design, but the new kind of society God is building in the world right now—it’s going to leave the experts in the dust. What we’re creating will transcend the inevitable rise and fall of civilizations.
It’s time to re-think everything you thought you knew about designing human communities:
1. Re-think POWER. You have heard it said: “Thou shalt not murder,” but I say we can do better than that. Imagine a society that resists all kinds of violence, even its “soft” forms where we dehumanize one another through language, litigation, and scapegoating. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, don’t take to fighting; don’t take to flight; instead, take a stand. Wage peace aggressively. Love thy enemy. For real.
2. Re-think SEX. You have heard it said: “Thou shalt not cheat on your partner,” but I say we can do better than that. Imagine a society that resists all kinds of sexual dehumanization and exploitation. People are not sexual objects for us to acquire and then discard. It’s time for our species to explore the frontiers of what it means to be faithful to one another.
3. Re-think MONEY. Imagine a society that resists all fear-based instincts for hoarding and devouring resources. We haven’t yet learned from the birds—they don’t even have jobs, but they are well taken care of. You matter at least as much as birds; try to believe that. The only wealth worth anything is relationships and trust between people.
4. Re-think CULTURE. Every society in history has enforced it rules and norms through the manipulations of shame, holding grudges, and public-relations campaigns disguised as religious observance. But I say: Don’t be religiously impressive. Don’t try to control others by shaming them and giving them your un-asked-for pearls of wisdom. If you want a door opened, knock on it; if you want something, ask for it. A healthy culture can be built only by people with healthy boundaries.
Whether you feel fine about it or not, it’s the end of the world as we know it. Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to collapse. Most people right now are choosing to go down with that ship. A storm is coming, but they continue to build their mansions on sand.
Those who hear my words and put them into practice will be like those little mammals who watched from the shadows as the meteorite landed on the dinosaurs.
The question remains: How do we get this new society started? What’s our strategy? Stay tuned. We’ll talk about that next week.
John Stonecypher is a theologian/blogger/speaker living in Denver with his wife and 3 sons. His other writing projects include The Jesus Benyosef Project and Geeked-Out Soul, where he blogs about geek spirituality.