Conspiracy is a strange word to associate with Advent, isn’t it?
The word has a subversive undertone. Exactly. We will join a growing movement at Easter this Advent that seeks to undermine the rampant consumerism that has overtaken the season and attempt to focus on the deeper meaning behind it all. Check out adventconspiracy.org to learn about the history of this movement and get some great resources.
The truth is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a conspiracy. We throw around phrases like “Jesus is Lord,” the “Good News” and “Peace on Earth” as if they were simply platitudes reserved for Holiday Greeting Cards. Yet, these phrases, when they were uttered by the first generation of Jesus-followers, in the shadow of the Roman Empire, were politically subversive and could get one killed.
Caesar believed that he was the son of the gods and had brought peace to the earth through his military victories. This is called the Pax Romana (peace of Rome). The Roman Empire was built upon the philosophy of Aristotle that created a hierarchical system in the universe. The rich and powerful people were more virtuous than the poor and lowly. Some people inherently deserved power and fame, while others were born for servitude. The peace of Rome was established by the wealthy and powerful crushing the weak, the poor, and the enemy with cruelty and violence. For example, the Romans crucified 30.000 people on one day, because they were rising up against the Empire.
The peace of Rome existed because there was no one left to fight. That’s peaceful for those with Roman privilege, but is Hell for everyone else.
So, when Jesus’ followers entered a town and said…
To claim Jesus is Lord and Savior was to directly challenge the supremacy of Caesar. That will get you crucified or thrown in the circus to fight the lions.
Jesus did not overthrow the violence and power of Rome with violence and power. Instead, he absorbed the violence of Rome on the Roman cross…and forgave it. He let it go. He took the more excellent way of love and his resurrection gives the hope of new life in a new way of being humanity. It is a way of Shalom, the peace of God on Earth, goodwill toward all people. It is a Kingdom where the wealthy and the poor, the weak and the powerful are all equally valued and work together for the common good.
This was the promise made to Abraham. This is why Mary sang her song, and why the first step toward dismantling the destructive powers of our society is to worship the prince of peace. We can join Mary in her song in Luke 1:46-55.
For a great resource on the conspiracy of the Gospel, check out The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard.