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Combating Cynicism at Election Time

September 20, 2014

Greetings cyber friends, it’s beautiful sunny day for an election, here in Dunedin New Zealand. I have just been out to cast my vote against the principalities and powers (and by that I don’t mean a political party). A few days ago I wrote an ‘editorial’ for our church newsletter… here’s a foretaste for you who are not a part of Coastal Unity Presbyterian, Dunedin:Edward_Snowden

Last night I watched ‘The Moment of Truth’ starring Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald and whistle-blower Edward Snowden. It was both entertaining and disturbing. I’m not sure that it persuaded me to vote for Kim Dotcom, but it did make me wonder about the world we live in. They say truth is the first victim of war. But what happens when people believe they are living in a constant state of warfare? I fear that some of us end up sinking into a kind of cynicism in which public accountability is regarded as a lost cause and we end up being unshockable and feeling powerless.


Recently our gospel readings have been parables. It seems that Jesus was constantly wandering around casting out stories – strange stories about the everyday world, yet stories that surprise us, stories that suggest a world very different from the everyday world we know, stories about the kingdom of a God who is strange. On Sunday we had a story about a king who forgave an absurdly large debt. That was surprising. But the real surprise was when the forgiven servant was completely unaffected and walked out the door and refused to forgive his fellow servant. This coming Sunday the kingdom of God is compared to an employer whose idea of fair payment catches us by surprise. He gives those who do only one hour’s work the same wage as those who work all day. In this kingdom there’s no proportionality between the payment and the work. The employer treats the wage as a kind of gift and reserves the right to be as generous as he wishes with his gift. For those who worked all day this is offensive. For those who began in the evening this is a gift that they know they don’t deserve. In this kingdom, if you feel you deserve a place you’ll never be happy and if you know you don’t you’ll be free to enjoy it and share what you have.


Every so often when I read the gospels I get excited and hopeful about the world and think maybe something different is possible. In particular I hope that God might actually be at work to create a small piece of this strange kingdom of gift and forgiveness. I start to imagine that there might be something called ‘church’ hidden in the world, in spite of all my cynicism about the world. One of the verses in scripture that stirs this hope in me is 2 Corinthians 5:21 in which Paul tells the folk at Corinth that the community of Jesus might become ‘the justice of God’. Paul writes ‘For our sake he [God] made him who knew no sin [i.e. Jesus, the one who lived in complete love for God and neighbour] to be ‘sin’ [the scare quotes are important after all he was different from this screwed up world to the point that he was treated as sin by that world], so that in him we might become the justice of God.


Its the end of that verse that excites me. Is it possible that we here in Coastal Unity might become the [odd] justice of God. Is it possible that the ‘gift-economy’ of Jesus’ parables might find its way into our lives?

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