Wednesday, September 01, 2010

a question on law & empire

The morning shower is a dangerous place to think.

But as I wrestled with this line of thought, I knew I had to throw it out into community to see what others have read or considered, and I knew it was too weighty for a status update or a tweet, so here I am breathing life back into my blog.

Of course, this post will link over to Facebook eventually, and I expect most if any responses will be left there, but you get the picture.

Quite simply, my question is this:
Was the inability of the Israelites to build an empire similar to the inability to keep the law of our own efforts? Was it an object lesson in the grand cosmic scheme? And if so, is the fact that we are called to operate out of the power of the Spirit's working in our lives, is our ability to interact with the wide world, to draw them to the God we serve, necessarily coming from that same place of Spirit empowerment rather than our own power (some trust in chariots...), a place of love of neighbor and enemy, a place of quiet trust, rather than a place of control & conquer?

I wrestle with this God who called his people to ransack villages and murder their inhabitants. But this is the same God who laid out for his people a specific and complicated list of laws, knowing they would be unable to keep them. And he is a God who has revealed himself as a God of mercy and forgiveness. A God who calls us to love and sacrifice, to lay down our own lives.

Maybe the Israelites misunderstood God's instructions?

Or maybe Jesus left out the part about how we are supposed to overcome through war?

Or maybe, the failure of war and conquering to bring the Israelites into being God's people was setting the stage for Jesus to show us the higher way, the way of trusting in the Spirit's power and not pursuing our own? The way in which he reveals his glory to the world, we don't force it upon them so that they turn away?

I should probably go eat breakfast now...

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