Piggy-backing on my last post on Continuing Jesus’ Mission into the World, I wanted to further describe the final project I gave to my students this quarter. Again, I wanted to be as concrete as possible, both in the description of the project and in their rootedness in the practices of Jesus. So, after studying the kingdom of God in the life of Jesus, we named those specific practices that Jesus performed as he was non-conformed within the culture.
Here is the list of Jesus’ practices we worked from in class:
— acts of liberation, healing activities, working for justice (econ, racial, gender), solidarity with those care for the poor, inclusion of the marginalized, redrawing social boundaries
— communicating the good news of the kingdom, mediators of grace, forgiveness, mercy, telling stories of another reality
— acts of hospitality, generosity, joy
— love of enemies, no enemy but Satan, peacemaking
— egalitarian community, egalitarian, non-coercive leadership, voice for all
— announcing/denouncing, engaging, seeking
Soooo, given these activities of Jesus, what does it mean to continue Jesus’ work in the world? Here is the students assignment:
1) Describe a context (be it a church system, a neighborhood, a refugee camp, Starbucks) in terms of kingdom language (above). Give examples, what is like the kingdom, and what is not…Describe where you see the kingdom and where you see the opposite — is there freedom or oppression, a voice for the marginalized, or is the system itself marginalizing? Look for the kingdom but note where you see the opposite.
2) Describe what kingdom mission might look like in your context. Dream what the kingdom would look like in this context. What does liberation look like here — where everyone gets a place at the table? Remember there is no sacred/secular split, so the church system is just as much a candidate for redemption as the Fortune 500 corporation.
3) What does the community of believers need to do to foster kingdom expressions in the context? Given the context, given some of your dreams, what must be fostered to move in that direction? Remember, the means to the given end must be consistent with the kingdom — no coercive leadership, everyone given a voice, dialogue, etc.
I see this as one possible step forward in moving a given social system, be it a relationship, a network, an organization, a neighborhood towards the reign of God. This week I’ll be reading 74 students’ efforts in moving in that direction. What I have read so far has excited me and keeps me going as a teacher