Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hauerwas: Jesus creates a unique kind of community

I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying reading Stanley Hauerwas' commentary on Matthew. His fifth chapter, focusing on Matthew 5, is inspiring. His focus is on Jesus' creation of a kind of new community within the old, a community of Jesus folk, "resident aliens" who represent something that the larger community can perhaps aspire to or mimic, but cannot achieve on its own.
Jesus does not seek to violently overthrow Rome, because his kingdom is an alternative to the violence of Rome as well as to those who would overthrow Rome with violence. His kingdom, however, cannot avoid being subversive. That subversion is the righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees and as such is a subversion that will result in his crucifixion, for rather than violently overthrowing the old order Jesus creates a people capable of living in accordance with the new order in the old. The antithesis that follows his admonition that his followers are to be salt and light is but Jesus' description of the order of this new community. Yoder observes that Jesus does what God had done in calling Abraham, Moses, Gideon, or Samuel. That is, he gathers people around his word so that a society comes into being like no other society the world has ever seen.

No comments: