The biblical tradition subverts human order not by attempting to dismantle or replace it with other structures, but by confronting its representatives with the truth about its origin and its purpose. Its origin is that God wills it. Its purpose is to serve God’s glory by promoting God’s peace and God’s justice for all. There is no evidence that Jesus or his followers stood aside from this tradition. Jesus made no common cause with those whose agenda was to exchange one structure—imperial Roman rule—for another: Jewish home rule. Power is a sacred trust, and those who have it may not abandon their responsibility. The Bible offers two images of the life of God’s people: that of exile (an image of weakness) and that of exodus (an image of power). We may not abandon either, nor may we escape the problem of violence that goes with the latter image. We, too, are constantly under judgment for our use of power.
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