I am a nerd sympathizer. Once upon a time I had some good nerd potential: I liked and was good at math, I did well in school, I love science fiction/fantasy, and I have never felt socially adept. Then I decided to become a social worker and then a pastor instead of an engineer or something. I discovered I stink at technology. So, my nerd potential went unrealized. Somewhere inside me, though, there is still a nerd crying to get out. The jokes my nerd friends (I hope they will take that title as the compliment it is intended to be) post on facebook almost always make me laugh... unless the unrealized part of my nerd potential means I don't understand them. I find more inspiration in books on quantum physics and in the science fiction/fantasy genre than in theological or spiritual books.
So, when I run across the word “empire,” while reading some theology, the Star Wars theme strikes up in my head. But then I read on and I realize what I am reading would make a really good Unpopular, Rebel Against the Status Quo, Dare to be Uncool Nerd Gospel. I’ve been reading “Saving Jesus From The Church” by Robin Meyers in which he talks about Jesus’ references to the Kingdom of God being in opposition to the empire of Rome. I have been hearing about Joerg Rieger who talks about following Jesus being contrary to the idea of empire and top down rule. Then I listened to this speech by John Dominic Crossan in which he outlines how the language used by Paul in scriptures: calling Jesus Lord, Son of God, etc. was using language which was used at that time to describe the Roman emperor. This is to say Jesus is our lord not Caesar and that peace will not come through the victory of military might but rather through God working nonviolent justice through God’s people. This is a rebellion against the powers that be. This is a rebellion against a few living in luxury while many suffer. This is a rebellion against poverty, injustice, and devaluing those who are outcasts from society.
Someone dear to me used to have a Confederate flag which he loved. He was not racist. He was not from the south. To him it was a symbol of rebellion. Sadly, that was the best symbol of rebellion he could find in part because Christianity has strayed so far from following Jesus. The fish, the dove, the cross, all our Christian symbols ought to be symbols of rebellion because Jesus was a kick-booty nonviolent rebel. Jesus calls us to rebel against the powers that be through healing, feeding the hungry and struggling for justice for all people. Jesus calls us to this rebellion even today when most don’t label the powers that be as an empire. Yet when few prosper and many suffer what else could it be?
For all those who dare to be different, for all those who are different through no choice of their own, for all those who dream of a world that is different, peaceful, and just, this is the Good News: Rebel Jesus calls you forth.
I guess this shouldn't be too surprising. I mean, don't you think the followers of Jesus in the Gospels look more like the folks on Serenity (the spaceship on the show Firefly) than the folks on the 700 Club?
What say you, oh nerd friends? And don't we all have a bit of nerd in us anyway?