Jesus told his disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod” (Mark 8:14-15). They didn’t understand what he meant. Today, most of us don’t either. Every institution offers us a pseudonym in exchange for our life resources. Today we arrive at the institution which holds the most power over people: The Government. Though it both plunders and provides, government corruption has brought our trust in it to an all-time low. Yet scripture tells us that all government is given by God (Romans 13:1).
A key differentiator in the Government’s power from last weeks look at Religion’s power is that the State criminalizes non-compliance. In other institutions like the family, a teen can run away. In the community, we can find another group. In Religion, we can walk away. In the State, opting out is impossible without being a fugitive. Because the State can criminalize noncompliance, fear of one’s well being is inevitable . This creates a dire, adversarial relationship against personal freedom.
Of course the State doesn’t work alone. According to Stefan Molyneux, the seduction of the State’s power brings many accomplices, which add layers of institutional corruption and power plays against personal liberty. Politicians are the ruling class, Military and Police are the enforcing class, Religion, education and Media are the propaganda engines while Business and taxes are the economic engine paid by “serfs” or working class.
It’s a system of competition for resources and power which thrives on creating distinctions (enemies). Government is necessary to all citizens, but divisions are created based on whether government resources are given to you or taken from you. All governments grow until they collapses under their own weight.
This series has shown that the Gospel liberates us beyond a spiritual baby wipe. The Good News is that physical, financial, and bodily liberty is possible (Isaiah 61:1-3) by subverting the seduction of all institutions to which Paul says we ultimately battle (Romans 6:12). I’ve shown how Jesus subverted these same institutional power plays and we all know the price he paid to do so. John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you.”
Jesus reveals that the path to liberty is NOT rebellion, anarchy, nor blind compliance. Remember, Barabas was the zealot who thought the promised kingdom would come by resistance to government (Mark 15:7). Resistance isn’t the path, but IT IS the awakening from the anesthesia imposed by the State. Overpowering is not the path. Jesus said, “Do you not think I can appeal to my Father and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). The path to liberty is ontological (being), thus subversion occurs by de-identification. Jesus didn’t oppose or avoid death, he subverted it.
Subverting the government is not leaving the country, going off the grid, or going postal. Each of those is the caged animal injuring itself. Subverting the government is an internal revolution of de-identification. This occurs the moment you realize that if government likes you, it’s not because it likes you, rather what you can do for it. “Herod was glad to see Jesus… and questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.” (Luke 23:8-9).
Jesus models for us how to be “in the world” even though we are not “of the world” (John 17:14). Jesus said to the State (Pilate) “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). This is the kingdom we’ve been talking about for two months. This means that the principles of government operate on something more powerful than institutional power plays. It’s powered by love, sacrifice, and self emptying, not pride, oppression and self promotion.
The government and all institutions need to possess us for their own promulgation. They make a simple trade with us. The bestow upon us some form of identification as proof of belonging. In return, they get to index us and draw from our resources. If born in America, we thoughtlessly index ourself as “American” as if that is who we are. This is how identification goes through all the institutions of life. “She is an American, Californian, Democrat, Feminist, School teacher, who is a Lutheran Christian, married, mother of two, who is a scuba diver.”
These indexes are NOT who we are. They are only GPS coordinates. Indexes are used to power institutions by creating distinctions and placing a value on a person to each institution. Each citizen is valuable to the government as a tax payer or as promotion of its propaganda. If we take the identification of the institution, a pseudonym, (number of the beast– Revelations 13:18) then we lose sight of our true name.
Subverting the government is trusting in an alternative narrative beyond what the State propaganda tells us we are. It’s being indexed by an alternative system. If we go back to the first post/broadcast of this series we learn that the forerunner of forgiveness meant that ontologically speaking, we are all “BELOVED.” Love is who we are. Beloved of God is who we are. Beloved is our true name. Beloved is where we all start and where we will all end.
Being is not easily believed. It’s easier to believe we are our choices, behaviors, citizenship, job title, W-2, hobbies, family, religion, or our preferences. These indexes are a disorienting anesthesia that when believed, create a dreamlike illusion, that there is nothing more to life. Will you fade into the backdrop of institutional power and lose your very self? This series is a call to WAKE UP!
May we each wake up to our true name. I am Keven, Beloved of God. You are … Beloved of God. They are … the Beloved. We all share the same last name, that of Beloved. Nothing is more subversive than that. This frees us to work and live and thrive within every institution of life, small and large, and since we cannot be named by the institution, we are free and empowered to bend any institution for the good of all humanity. That is the Gospel of the Kingdom! That is the work of redemption.
We don’t join this family, we awaken to it.