Here’s how Obery Hendricks defines kingdom, or the sovereignty of God, in his book The Politics of Jesus: “a new world order of transformed human relationships; it was social, economic, and political relationships in this world made holy” (99). Enough for you? How would you define kingdom?
I didn’t agree with him on the relationship of Paul to Jesus, but I find his seven political strategies of Jesus suggestive and worth conversing about, and wonder what you think of them. So, here they are, and (once again) welcome your comments:
1. Treat the people’s needs as holy: Lord’s Prayer — which reveals the kinds of needs Jesus thought important.
2. Give a voice to the voiceless: Temple incident (Mark 11:15-19) and the corruption of power; reminds one of the Magnificat of Mary.
3. Expose the workings of oppression: Matt 20:1-16 (parable of the workers in the vineyard). A satire on the economic system at work in Galilee — have you ever read the parable this way? The householder, he suggests, is not God; the parable reverses the current unjust system.
4. Call the demon by name: Mark 5:1-20 (Legion). A parable of “Legion” (the presence of Rome in the army) for devastating the Land of Israel. The problem for Israel is the corruption of its leaders (systemic injustice).
5. Save your anger for the mistreatment of others: Mark 1:40-45, where Jesus is moved with “anger” and heals a leper who had been begging for mercy and inclusion but was not granted basic community inclusion.
6. Take blows without returning them: Matthew 5:38-41. Not passive, but active resistance in a non-violent way. Such an action derails the sense of superiority on the part of the oppressor. Assert power nonviolently so as not to turn into the evil that was confroting them.
7. Don’t just explain the alternative, show it: John 6:1-15. He sees here an alternative to going to Jerusalem for Passover; instead, they go to Galilee and receive from Jesus (the bread of heaven). Jesus not only preached feeding the poor; he did it.