Jesus came into this world to transform us into His likeness, but do we desire Jesus’ likeness? Being like Jesus requires following His way of love, suffering, serving and embracing the other. Jesus did not mince words, when He said, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23). But how do we engage in the divine life through the critique of human power structures? To be sure, there is no shortage of violence, domination and oppression in our family, society and world today.
The first step is to identify these structures and to name them, rather than overlooking them and standing in silent support. The disciples of Jesus sought power to reinforce their understanding of the coming kingdom of God rather than embracing the mission of Jesus. So even after Jesus’ resurrection they questioned: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They sought to replace those in power and enact their own system of oppression rather than dismantling oppressive power structures and participating and rejoicing in their own forgiveness and true freedom.
The disciples did not wish to relinquish the power to which they thought they were entitled, as Jews, as men, as future rulers. Jesus therefore said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8). Only the fullness of the Spirit in our lives will enable us to become witnesses before a watching and wounded world.
Have you been a victim or perpetrator of racism, casteism, gender discrimination, child abuse, economic exploitation or creation abuse? Do we recognise these as oppressive powers that govern our world and wish to take a stand against the order of the day? Following Jesus demands joyful obedience and trust in order to participate in divine power.