I’d like to introduce you today to one of my favorite people in the world: Randy Harris, Randy is a professor at ACU, a philosopher, preacher and he happens to be one of my good friends and spiritual director.
This video is from the annual Pepperdine Bible Lectureship. It’s a sermon from just a few weeks ago on that famous passage in Mark 8.
For those of you who are outside of the tribe that I come from (Churches of Christ) you may not be familiar with Randy, but I hear a lot of preachers from a lot of different places in Christianity and I think he’s one of the best preachers and thinkers in any tribe.
As I mentioned yesterday, I think one of the great strengths of the branch of Christianity I grew up is in it’s Anabaptist roots. Because Churches of Christ were somewhat sectarian for so long, we didn’t get mixed up in the political movements of the 80’s like the moral majority, I’ve never seen a flag hanging in any of our places of worship, and I’ve never heard a sermon on who to vote for.
Think about us a bit like a time capsule left alone for decades, only recently opening up and showing a glimpse into what a different kind of Jesus community might look like.
And the more I hang out with people from other branches of Christianity, the more I realize that while my tribe has weaknesses that this is a great strength we have to offer.
Especially these days.
So for those of you who have ears to hear, for those of you who are anxious about what this election year holds, or what the future of America is. Here, I think, is a Gospel word. It will probably frustrate some of you, but I think it’s a word of great, great hope and comfort.
Here’s Randy’s Sermon:
“When it comes to placing the Kingdom of God in the world strategically, Jesus is clueless. He doesn’t get it. There is one and only one thing that works in this world, and that thing is power. And these Romans will never give up their power unless we force them to, and you can talk about the love of God all you want to, but what they really understand is when you cut off their ear.
It’s the only way.”
This is The Gospel According to Peter, and it is the Gospel to which Jesus responds: “Get Behind me Satan”
And when the Gospel of Peter wins, what you get is American Evangelical Christianity.It only took a scratch, in the history of the world, with all of the pain and disastrous wars and plagues that have afflicted the world, it only took a scratch. One Supreme Court ruling, one Terrorist attack, one Refugee crisis. It only took a scratch, and what we found underneath was fear and power. And we were so afraid, that we decided that Jesus’ way would never work, so we decided we’d take Peter’s way.
And not only has Peter’s Gospel won the day, we are winning the day with Peter’s Gospel.
And so in my nightmares, I walk across the battlefield looking at the bodies of our vanquished enemies, some are wearing turbans, some are wearing pink, some are atheists and unbelievers, some are garden variety liberals. But we have managed to vanquish them. And we have protected our way of life, our children, our kingdom. We won.
And then in my dream, as I walk through those bodies, I see the hands and the feet that are pierced. As we’ve conquered our enemies, we have killed the crucified Messiah.”
“The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of losing. We are willing to lose our lives. And it’s hard to believe, but Christians really don’t need the government to protect us, because God does that.
And this way of Cross is attached to this promise that whatever you lose God will restore, but the harder you are working not to lose it, the more likely you are to lose it.
Apart from a miraculous work of God (that is no where in sight) the cause for which Jesus Christ died is mostly going under in North America. But in good times and bad, in times when the ground is fertile and when the ground is stony, the call of a disciple of Jesus Christ is always the same. That is to be faithful to the Gospel of a crucified Messiah.
And what we need at this point, is a bunch of faithful witnesses. You will not get us to play the game of fear and power, because that is not what our Savior taught us.
We are going to remain the faithful witnesses to the Kingdom that no earthly power can resist, and much to their chagrin, no earthly power can create. We bear witness to the Kingdom that is coming. We bear faithful witness.
And we will not kill for it.
But we will willing die for it.
Because we won’t stay dead.
And we won’t spend our time trying to protect our way of life. Our children, our religion, because protection is God’s job. What we will do is take up the Cross, and deny ourselves, and follow the one we call Savior and Lord.”