Some of you may have come across Craig Greenfield, who lives and works in Cambodia, one of the most corrupt countries in the world. His often provocative posts are marked by a profound cry on behalf of justice. Not infrequently, they cast a fresh light on Scripture and challenge either our understanding or lack of application of what we know to be true or both! This is not a cosy, ‘hygge’ blog!
But it is worth reading. In a recent post, Craig provides helpful background information concerning the political structure of first century Judea. We have grown used to trivialising the role of the Sadducees, making fun of them even for not believing in angels or the resurrection, and therefore being ‘sad you see.’ In reality they were extremely powerful. Craig puts flesh on the bones, and sets in context the way Jesus warned the corrupt Jewish leadership and exposed their flaws and hypocrisy.
As surely as Jesus’ words were a joy and delight to the oppressed and needy, and those humble enough to reach out for help, so far as the ruling powers were concerned, they were not only deeply challenging but highly offensive.
Craig may sometimes sound as raw as John the Baptist himself, but by telling things straight, his post makes a good starting point for pondering this unprecedented time of division in recent American history. The Biden administration has committed itself to doing everything it can to campaign for working towards unity, rightly urging people to stop hating each other and to start working together, but the fact remains that there really are things that the Lord Jesus abhors. And He has as much to say about them in our day as He did in the first century.
We need people like Craig, who are prepared to disturb saccharine coated notions of Christianity by reminding us that loving righteousness and hating wickedness belong together (Heb. 1:9). To be sure, most of us will be called to less exacting ministries, but may there still be those who are prepared to walk rugged and costly paths to warn against deluded prophecies that speak of last-minute overthrows of perfectly legitimate election results!
The more fully we understand the background against which Jesus spoke and ministered, the more we will find it shaping and, quite possibly, redefining some of our thinking with respect to the tenor, tonality and whole direction of His utterances. This is important because, unless our minds are transformed and renewed, addressing issues like justice and poverty can leave us feeling condemned on the one hand, or offended and defensive on the other.
So, before going any further, can we invite you to gird up your loins, open your heart and have a read of Craig’s post, ‘Jesus called out corrupt politicians all the time.’