Archive for July 2nd, 2006

Matthew and the Margins

July 2, 2006

In Warren Carter’s insightful commentary, Matthew and the Margins, he lays out his approach in the preface this way: Matthew’s gospel…is a work of resistance written from and for a minority community of disciples committed to Jesus, the agent of God’s saving presence and empire. The gospel shapes their identity and lifestyle as an alternative community. It strengthens this community to resist the dominant Roman imperial and synagogical control. It anticipates Jesus’ return when Jesus will complete God’s salvific purposes in establishing God’s reign or empire over all, including Rome.

To put it simply, Carter’s claims is that Matthew writes to Jesus-followers so they can stand together against the powers of this world while waiting for Jesus’ return; and though this purpose relates well to us today, the powers of this world are a lot less obvious to us, and therefore, potentially more sinister.

To Matthew’s original audience (probably Antioch), the world powers were obvious: Rome (politically), and Jewish leaders (religiously). In our world, America flies the banner of political freedom, and the Church of Christ (of which I am a part) promotes the idea of congregational autonomy, so it isn’t easy for us to see controlling powers at work.

But I believe they are there.

Today’s “powers” that the alternative community of disciples (church) are to resist take the forms of things like “busy-ness,” individualism, class divisions, materialism, and the marginalization of religion, just to name a few. I believe these are the types of powers that are to be resisted by those of us who take the message of Jesus (as presented by Matthew) to heart.

What do you think?