A Better Way
“[Christ] disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it. Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:15-19)
We all have to do things we don’t want to do. That’s a given in life. There are structures, authorities, and systems that we get tangled up in and we can’t seem to get out of. Even when the worst of these systems is exposed and we can no longer hide from the fact that we are complicit in the support of horrible people and policies, we feel powerless to change things. What is one person against corporate evil?
One person challenged evil. One person walked the dirty streets of his hometown and the hometowns of his friends, and talked about what it would be like to live a different way. One person showed compassion to the people who had been discarded because they were of no value to the corrupt system, demonstrating to them that their true value was immeasurable. One person disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them. It cost him his life, but his life could not be snuffed out so easily.
Most of us are dependent upon systems we don’t completely agree with in order to make our living. Most of us would rather not think of the things the people at the top had to do to get there. Most of us turn a blind eye when we see corruption in our organizations, jobs and communities, because in some way we benefit from the corruption of others. We do not have to live this compromised life!
Even if none of us are in a position to completely declare our independence from corrupt corporations, systems of oppression, and societal sin, we can incrementally remove ourselves from their grasp. We can challenge the status quo. We can demand more of the companies we work for. We can put our words into action and stop supporting organizations, businesses, and systems which operate on the exploitation and degradation of the many for the benefit of the few. We have that power.
Jesus Christ broke the power of sin in the world. We tend to emphasize sin as personal only, that when St. Paul says “sin will have no dominion over you,” he means the individual. That’s not the case. Sin is not only individual, it is corporate as well. It is societal as well. When Jesus broke the power of the rulers and authorities, it was for the sake of a better way: The Commonwealth of God.
Each one of us is challenged and encouraged, has the right and responsibility, to live free from the dominion of sin, both personally and corporately. Christ has already made the way for us. We need to study the Sermon on the Mount, and see the kind of society Christ has prepared for us. We need to study the Acts of the Apostles and see how they put Christ’s words into action. And then we need to stop studying. And get to work.