Last week, while mowing, I was trying to catch up on a backlog of audio I’ve downloaded. Up in the queue came “The Gospel and Our Culture” (streaming audio) by NT Wright. Dr. Wright (or Tom as I call him when I pretend we are friends) presented this lecture as part of a lecture series at Second Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, Virginia.
He made a striking parallel that I have never heard before between the contemporary tendencies toward a Gnostic dualism and the ruling forces of empire. In my understanding, empire could be defined as either both political forces or commercial forces such as consumerism. Empire will always by sympathetic toward a religious belief system that is rooted in dualism. Dualism pushes religion toward a private experience of the heart, where it is less of a threat to conspire against the forces of Empire. It is there that it poses the least threat to empire. (Of course, he says it far better than this brief summary, and if you find this remotely interesting, I’d encourage you to go and listen.)
Unfortunately, for followers of Jesus, when our faith is tucked neatly away in our heart, it is also where our faith becomes most difficult to grapple with in everyday life. May we always take care to see how God is present and active in every reality. May we long to see his Kingdom break in as we weigh what it means to follow Jesus in every moment.