03 February 2009

end fix

John Meier writes about Jesus: "He was not proclaiming the reform of the world; he was proclaiming the end of the world."*

Interestingly enough, this comes in a discussion regarding the beatitudes - what is supposed to be a collection of niceties and well-wishes to make everyone feel better about themselves.  And this is possible, if you take them out of the context into which they were initially given.  The beatitudes have a long (and sometimes complex) history of interpretation to them, which basically means that everyone has tried to read them in their own special way at one point or another.  The key is to grasp them as a part of the entire message of Jesus, which was a straightforward and sometimes brash declaration of the imminent end of the world.  (At least, that's how Meier would describe it.)

Herein lies one more example of our failure to grasp Jesus as messiah.  We are still looking for our own messianic hopes to be fulfilled, whether in some figure or entity.  A significant gap lies between Jesus and modern conceptions of messiah and hope - we are still overly concerned with reforming ourselves into contentment, whereas Jesus challenged the very structure of the world from the ground up.  This helps to explain why we are unable to fulfill our own desires for justice, and why we are often less-than inspired by Jesus.  And perhaps it is why our culture has taken language once reserved for Jesus as Messiah and has applied them to modern aspirations and political ambitions.  Even in the church.  μὴ γένοιτο

* John Meier, A Marginal Jew, vol.2 (New York: Doubleday, 1994), 331.

No comments: