RetellingOver the past few years, there seems to be a new emphasis upon what has been labeled “revisionist history”. By this I am referring to the attempt to rewrite history which lends credence to particular views, policies and positions. The challenge with this practice is that it becomes difficult to engage in any meaningful dialogue aimed at solving present problems and providing practical solutions for the future.

This is most clearing seen in the unfolding political debate regarding a myriad of issue. There are constant references to the ‘founding fathers” and as I recently pointed out in a message I shared on “Being filled with the Spirit”, “the way one views the founding of any social structure depends on where one finds themselves in the narrative”. For instance, the story of western expansion is different for the American settlers and Native Americans. The story of the economic boom of the cotton industry is different for the cotton manufactures and slaves who picked the cotton.

I think you get the point. What is of equal concern to me as I view the current state of Christianity, especially within the 500 years, is whether we are retelling or revisioning the Jesus story. There is a rich history of revival and restoration which rescued the biblical story from the clutches of powerful institutional structures that became interested in maintaining their power and control more than seeing the lives of people changed through the movement of God’s Spirit. Each stage of reformation was then countered by the movement being cemented into another monument focused on revisioning the movement to support its place of power and priviledge.

The Jesus of the gospels (who is accessible to all) has been placed behind theological and ritualistic practices controlled by the priesthood of a select few. One hallmark of the Wesleyan tradition is the practice of the “priesthood of all believers” yet even here, the story is being revisioned. The great thing is God always has a witness. Signs of another great reformation are all around us as we witness the cry of humanity for truth and justice.

As we move forward as the people of God, we should be open to enter into holy conversation within our respective faith communities and begin to ask, are we telling or rewriting the Jesus story?

D.A. Williams
Residence Park UMC

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