Around the time of the 2016 presidential election, I was scrolling through twitter and saw a hopeful news report from a Chicago elementary school. The teacher of a fourth grade class had students label all the different types of people they could think of. Muslims, gays, black, white, latino/latina, etc. After naming as many as they could, the teacher had the students connect every identity to one arrow that pointed to one phrase that said,
You are welcome here
Teacher of the year award? Yes. I think absolutely. But something else I noticed is that the person who had retweeted this story added their own quick phrasing. A simple yet incredibly profound caption,
Humanity > Ideology
That two word phrase has sunk itself into me. It’s been two years since seeing it and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s so profound and yet so simple. It captures so much while saying saying so little.
And, what I love most about it, is the way it captures completely the essence of the ministry of Jesus the Christ — the teacher / way I still chose to put my faith in even after his legacy has been hijacked and manipulated by people with political motivation.
I’ve been a Christian my whole life. It’s a framework that has worn many different hats. A catholic school kid early on, rule following non-denom mega church kid for a bit, rebellious nihilist in college, and now (aspiring) mystic non-denom pastor. Christianity and I have ran the gamut together. And, thankfully, over the timeline of this relationship, this way of seeing the world, along with myself, have evolved.
I used to believe that it was my Christian identity that took precedent. Because I used to think people needed to be saved. Which really simply means they needed what I had. They needed my perspective on things. A disturbing reality and mindset of the direction western Christian thought took / at times is still taking. And one that is also incredibly egotistical.
But in rediscovering Jesus through rediscovering the Bible I’ve rediscovered the priority of one who aligns with Christ according to Jesus... and I believe that is making the human being you interact with take precedent over any ideology you may hold. Always.
Jesus was a Jew. Something we tend to forget. And perhaps the reason we forget that is because Jesus didn’t ever let that Jewish ideology be prioritized over the people her interacted with; unlike the Jewish leaders of his time. Jesus’s goal, it could be argued, was to help the Jewish people realign themselves with people rather than with law.
Jesus, whether it was with the woman at the well, the rich young ruler, Zacchaeus in the tree, or any of his disciples, always interacted with the human, not the ideology he or they held. Jesus was not interested in proselytizing, Jesus was interested in seeing how ones story, however broken and burdened it may have been, could find a new trajectory. One built on hope, new found self-worth, and love.
The subversive message of an ideology based in Jesus is that it’s an ideology based in the reality of the individual lives of the humans we encounter. Whereas the dominant way of ideology today (and in Jesus’s day) is to quadrant us off into tribes, the ideology of Jesus is to not see tribe at all. But instead, to see the human completely.
The ideologies of his disciple’s varied widely, same with the ideologies of those he healed, spoke to, and drank wine with. But the one thing that united them all was their shared humanity. And that, I believe, was and is the reality of priority to Jesus.
The reality worth loving. Binding himself to. And being with.
Jesus sought out the human, not the ideology.