I am currently reading a book called Truth Speaks to Power: The Countercultural Nature of Scripture by Walter Brueggemann. I picked up the book more for its subtitle than for its title. As a child of the Jesus Movement (also known as the Jesus Revolution), I’m interested in anything with “Countercultural” and “Scripture” in the same phrase. I am barely getting started in this book, but I have read enough to get at least an idea of what the title is all about.
Power distorts truth because those in power can control the “truth” and adjust it to meet their needs and serve their agendas. Power exists in the back pocket of the wealthy, or as Brueggemann redefines the Golden Rule: “The ones with the gold make the rules.” His premise is that scripture, both Old and New Testaments, is on the side of the weak, the powerless, and the oppressed. It’s always been this way. So that truth needs to speak to those in power not the other way around, which is usually the case.
This is clearly why the gospel and politics don’t mix, and why the wedding of Christianity and politics that has occurred in America in the last 30 years has been a grave mistake. The gospel has taken a back seat to political agendas and Christians have lost the opportunity to speak the gospel of grace into the culture and to those in power. There is no power on earth that can come close to the power of the Holy Spirit in you and me.
Look at the social agenda of Jesus as laid out in the Sermon on the Mount and you won’t find any political party in line with its priorities. That’s why following Christ is outside of politics. Not that we don’t involve ourselves in our political responsibilities as citizens of this democracy, but we don’t assume that we, or anyone else, can get politics to further the kingdom of God. We accomplish that through service and through furthering the work of the Holy Spirit in the world by showing up where there is need.
Remember the agenda of Jesus “to proclaim good news to the poor … to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). That is the truth, and there is no power on earth apart from the power of God that can accomplish this agenda. This is why we are, and will always be, countercultural.