This is the second in 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. This post is an interpretive paraphrase of Matthew 10.
Last week, we talked about God’s new design for human communities. Today we get into how we’re going to make it happen. Here’s our strategy:
We’re going to love the wrong people.
Whatever culture/community you’re in, it holds together because of shared hatred for someone, someone you blame for your community’s biggest problems. Your job is to find that someone, and be a friend to them. For example:
· Most of us at this TED conference come from a Pharisee / Fundamentalist background. That means you need to go find some sinners – prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers and other sick people (whom you think deserve to be sick) – and become their friend. Be awesome to them.
· Any Zealot / Militia-types in the audience today? Your job in this revolution is to go find some gun-toting illegal immigrants – the ones occupying and oppressing our country — get to know them, and love them.
· Israeli? Go hug a Palestinian.
· Got a sex offender on your block? Team up with a friend, and go introduce yourselves. Bring banana bread.
· Tea Partier? Bring a Thermos of coffee to an Occupier.
· Live near Westboro Baptist? Try hand-delivering a fabulous bouquet of pansies. They don’t get a lot of love-mail.
In short, do for your enemies what you do for your friends: When they are sick, nurse them back to health. Wherever they have death, bring your life. Carry their burdens. Slay their dragons. Share the good news about God’s new society that is emerging in the world.
A few things to remember as you go:
1. No fundraising will be needed. Freely you have received; freely give. You don’t need to travel to Africa to do this. The work that needs to be done is all around you. If you need to travel, just crash on somebody’s couch. If you’re not welcomed, shake it off and try somewhere else.
2. Prepare to be hated. If you love the wrong people, your people will hate you. Love will expose and disrupt the organized hate that holds your society together; don’t expect them to thank you. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Church potlucks will turn into lynch mobs in your honor, but fear not. Even if they do their worst and kill you, they won’t be able to defeat you.
3. It will not last forever. When it gets too hot in one town, move on to the next town. Remember, when the Son of Man comes to the throne of the world, it means the end for all beastly rule. When the storm comes upon this generation, the honchos of our civilization will see that it is I, not they, who rule. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before this happens.
4. Choose your priorities in advance. This is about the future of the human race. It is bigger than your tribal loyalties to family and friends. If these priorities don’t work for you, then don’t waste your time pretending to follow me. Go ahead and keep trying to find yourself, and when you do, you will have found nothing. But if instead you can lose yourself with me, that is when you will find something real.
What you’re thinking right now is: How can a dumb-ass plan like this possibly succeed? We’ll look at the answer next week.
John Stonecypher is a theologian/blogger/speaker living in Denver with his wife and 3 kids. His other writing endeavors include The Jesus Benyosef Project and Geeked-Out Soul, where he blogs about geek spirituality.