Christianity is Greatest When...

St. Ignatius wrote: "Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world."

I'd like to affirm that immediately, but there are all sorts of things Christianity is hated for - with good reason.

In class last week, my friend Bo said something to the effect of: "we have to give up every bit of power" to be authentic followers of Jesus.

I think therein lies much of the necessary tension for St. Ignatius' words to remain true: if Christianity happens to carry the baggage of worldly power, then hatred of it cannot be an accurate measure of its greatness.

It is when we are weak that we are strong. When we are least that we are greatest.

And I'm not entirely convinced that "the world" hates what is good. There is evil in the world (yes, I still believe there is genuine evil) and the world may still be largely under it's oppression. But the world is a creation of God, so I find it unhelpful to cherry-pick "the world" scriptures from the New Testament to prove there is something inherently evil about this world.

Ah, but I'm sort of rambling.

St. Ignatius wrote: "Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world." I think he was mostly right, when we are weak and humble, clinging to the Way of Jesus.


Gabe said...

I'd would need to amend your friend's statement to see it as accurate. We must give up power-over, not power-with. We have the power to feed. We have the power to offer hospitality. We have the power to welcome.

We have to give up the power to force. We have to give up the power to insulate ourselves. We have to give up power that's used to control and not to build up other.

I found this brief intro to power-with and power-over.

Broken follower... said...

I think another part to "power" is that the "power" is not our own. I believe we don't do things in our own name, but in the name of God, to be missionaries for God, not of ourselves. How can people hate Christians who aren't doing good things for their own glory? :) Interesting post...

Brandon K. Baker said...

Hi Peter,

Awesome post. I believe that if we take an honest look at history we can conclusively say that Christendom (Christianity as an institution) doesn't work.

The goal of the Christian is to empower rather than assert power. As Gabe hit on, we have the power to do good. We possess that ability. In that way we are powerful. Yet, I think the bigger issue we're hitting on is overpowering others or asserting our power. Even in helping others we can be asserting power rather than empowering others.

For instance, if we feed the hungry in such a way that they become dependent on our power (i.e. - they find it easier and more rewarding to wait on our generosity), we do them an injustice. If we enter into solidarity with the hungry and work with them, we build them up and empower.

Thanks again for the great post Peter!


Peter said...

Great input, thanks for the feedback everyone! It's obviously something we can keep adding to - or perhaps - keep parsing down...

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