I’ve been attempting to argue over this series of posts that Jesus’ passion, in contrast to Judas’ scheming to catalyze Jesus into revolution, and Paul’s strategizing to get to Rome, critiques the power-plays that we try to make as Christians.
Through Game Theory we have been duped into thinking our best strategy is to not trust one another. But beyond that Christ’s death on the cross – a deliberate ‘loss’ – subverts the very idea of strategy at all.
At Golgotha, God declares the end of strategy.
God will not play our power games.
There is no win or lose.
All too quickly the early church – mostly under the influence of Paul, I would argue – lost this message and began to make itself into a ‘strategic organization’. We don’t really know the effect of Paul’s journey to Rome, what we do know is that in 313CE Emperor Constantine declared himself a Christian. Why? Because he believed that the Christian God had given him victory in battle. Where did he get such a theology? Surely not from Christ. Constantine was a brilliant soldier, and an astute military strategist. Is is possible that there is a thread that leads from Paul’s strategy to evangelize Rome to Constantine’s conversion?
I’m clearly speculating. But what concerns me about Constantine is that from there on we see Christianity moving from a religion of the poor and the oppressed, to a religion held up by the rich and powerful as one which supports them.
This is a long way from the cross, and it seems a long way from us too. But I believe that if the church allows itself to be tied up in strategies, to ‘winning’ people for Christ, it will end be moving towards power-politics, towards support for wars, and away from genuine concern for ‘the other’.
To give oneself for ‘the other’ is to lose. It is to be engaged in transformative relationships, rather than tactical change. It is to love. To know grace. And grace and love have no strategy.
Thanks if you’ve got this far. Month old babies don’t make for clarity of thought, so apologies if it could all have been clearer 😉
Peace over the Easter Weekend.