Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 14

GOSPEL WITNESS - Smith instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (NIV). So Jesus is reversing this investment in kingship and saying no and calling for an egalitarian structure that will actually allow you to fully manifest God’s love among people. You need a different structure to be different. Consequently, when you look at the early churches, they model this. They were more egalitarian; that allowed everybody’s voice to be heard; that allowed people to be different, to imagine the kingdom of God here. So we need different structures that allow us to be different in the process. And this I think we can see actually manifested in real life. For instance, in Latin America there’s been this growing movement involving a kind of helpful relationship between Indigenous movements and Christian movements together. They have taken this insight to heart, saying, we don’t just want to oppose the things we don’t like, but we want to actually create the things that we do want. I would ask students at UC Riverside, what do you think about your educational system here? They all say they hate it. They have a long list of things they don’t like. So I say, “Okay, tomorrow you get to take over Riverside. What are you going to do differently?” And they say, “Nothing. We don’t know what else to do; we know we don’t like it, but we don’t know what else we want.” So essentially what these movements are saying is, it’s not enough to oppose something if you don’t know what you’d put in place of it. And what we need to do is practice thinking of what to put in its place, because that’s not easy. We’re so used to being oppressive that we don’t necessarily know easily how to be different with each other. So instead, people start to create different systems that make people less oppressive in the process. To give you one example, we met with some folks from the landless movement in Brazil. This is a movement in which people are using land that’s not being occupied by anybody, and they take over this land until their right to be on that land gets recognized. So, if there’s a problem in the community, they can’t call the police, because the police are just going to arrest or kill them. So they had to develop their own alternative governance system. What they started to do was have a system where a man and a woman are in charge of each sector of society. And they make sure leadership is also rotated so nobody has all the power, and if there’s such a thing as domestic violence, then everybody goes to that household to see what’s going on, because, as we know, abuse tends to proliferate where 13