I wasn’t sure how to sort through all of the news about Brexit over the weekend. It seems that people are afraid and longing for security. Put another way, I think they are longing for a Savior. And the European experiment hasn’t succeeded in offering them that kind of safety. When the Roman Empire became Christian, the entire continent had a chance to be the alternative, but instead it submitted to the idols of the military and the state. Statism and statecraft once again failed at achieving only what our Savior can bring into fullness.
The Brexit and all of the drama and fear around it is why I am glad I am claimed by Christ and driven toward alternativity.
Israel in the Old Testament engaged in a similar experiment as the aforementioned Europeans. They were trying to create an alternative to other Near Eastern powers. And for the most part, they succeeded. But again, enchanted by security and progress, their united kingdom was blown apart. At the end of the Old Testament they needed a savior.
Jesus wasn’t the same kind of king that Saul, David, and Solomon were. Rather than bringing together a specific group of people, he was reconciling the whole world unto himself. In this new Kingdom, there are no borders—neither Jew nor Greek, but rather a kind of “third race:” Christians. Christians’ mission then was to bring about the Kingdom of God represented in the Body of Christ. As Hauerwas says, they and we are to attest to the power of the Kingdom of God. He calls it a “peaceable kingdom.” We’re calling it “alternativity.”
Christian faith isn’t just an accessory that one can use to augment his or her life. It isn’t just a truth that gives someone personal meaning. Jesus is the meaning and the giver of it. He gives us our being and our mission. In Him, we find it all. And that radical process of creating the alternative isn’t something we do alone. Rather, it is only something that we can do together.
In this age of power and progress, the best that citizens of this world can hope for is empowering a new moral elite. Whether Roman Christian or Islam in the Middle Ages, or Marxist dictatorships and Capitalism democratic oligarchies, if we put our hope in the government, we are still submitting ourselves to power structures that will inevitably fail to satisfy us. Our satisfaction is in the Lord and his mission.
Through history, committed Christians have been doing this very thing, creating the alternative. The early church, the desert fathers, the Saints of Europe, the Reformers (and especially the Radical ones), the Revivalists have been expressing something different from the mainstream. Circle of Hope, too, has been doing that for twenty years! And it was evident this weekend at our Council meeting, in particular, let me just say! We aren’t just satisfied with the great things we’ve done over the last twenty years, but are looking to what the Spirit wants us to do next.
Rather than selecting between Hillary, Trump, Bernie, Stein, or Johnson, we have another way of doing it. This weekend, James Dobson told us that Donald Trump is now a “baby Christian.” Some outlets were emphasizing Hillary’s Methodism. The state knows that Christians are a different sort of people and now they are organizing their candidates in a way that reflects that. I’m glad they are Christians, but I’m even more glad I am doing something else.
I hope you will join us! Even our process of discerning what that alternative is and what God has given us to do is a radical alternative to the dissatisfying way of the world. We listened to each other, engaged in dialogue, sought consensus and mutuality, and finally affirmed our Map. It’s a guiding document, influenced by all of us and, I believe, blessed by the Spirit to attest to the power of Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection.
We have big plans. We want to express to the whole region that we are continuing to follow Jesus in an era where it is not so easy. In a region that’s increasingly becoming less Christian, where our children are under attack, where the one percent enslaves us, and where technology blurs the image of God, Circle of Hope is doing something different.
We are planting a new congregation in the Northwest. We are hoping to communicate our story more vividly. We want to help people all over the region who need resources through our mutuality fund. We want to discern the theology of technology. We want to answer the questions that new advances are rapidly bringing up. It is an exciting time for us and it is a great time to join what we are doing. If the ways of the world are disillusioning you, if you are afraid for your family, if you are longing for safety and a Savior, I think we may have exactly what you are looking for.