We are continuing the Q&A between myself and prolific theologian, author, professor and blogger, Scot McKnight, about his new book, One.Life. You can check out a number of his award winning books and blog here.
Andrew’s Question: I loved this: “Often you can learn what a person is for by listening to what they are against. I’ll give you what Jesus was against, and you can infer what he was for: 1) Jesus spoke against authorities who ignored oppression; 2) He spoke against the tax collectors who ripped people off; and 3) He spoke against his disciples when they ignored the children” (p. 59). You then go on to suggest that Jesus was for the proper use of power, for justice and for the value of everyone. It seems to me that those three simple ‘for’s’ could end the obsessing culture wars that continue to dominate our world. How do you define the proper use of power, justice and dignity of everyone and what would that look like for us to live it out?
Scot’s Response: In a word, the only proper use of power is love. The only just conditions are love of one another and love of God, and the only dignity we can give to someone is to love them.
In one word, each of these is about love. But let me explain love a little bit.
We are in trouble in our culture today for many reasons, not the least of which is that we just don’t get what the Bible means by love. Love is not toleration – that’s a condescending “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” kind of relationship. Love in the Bible is about three things: presence (a pledge or commitment to be “with” someone); it’s about a plot (a pledge to be with someone as someone who is “for” that person in making that person to become the person God wants them to become) and love is about Jesus Christ (the ultimate form of love in the Bible is God becoming one of us – hence “with” us – as someone who worked redemption “for” us).
We use divine power when we commit ourselves, through the difficulties and in the good times, to be with someone but not just “with” but as someone who is genuinely “for” that person. We are committed to helping them to become all God has for them … folks, this is tough and it is hard and it takes more effort than tolerance ever had in mind. And this means we are to love them by pointing them to Jesus Christ as the ultimate revelation of God – as the one who lived for us and died for us and who was raised for us and who rules for us. That’s genuine power, genuine justice and genuine integrity.