does Jesus need a "movement"? (part 3)

Continuing from yesterday...

Having lived in a Christian community for a number of years now, I've been hearing again of a "new monasticism." And I can't help but notice the similarities with the old new monasticism. There is the radical call to live more like Jesus, renouncing wealth and sharing life with the lowly, which I am glad to hear again. There is the bold (and much needed) critique of the church of our day. Perhaps there is also the desire to rebuild it.

And then there is the way this new new monasticism appeals to the hungers and hopes of our time. The growing popularity (and support of influential church leaders) that makes it seem that significant revival and change might actually be achievable. It is now seen as "a movement," and is becoming more organized. But then I see wealthy publishing companies already turning "new monasticism" into bestsellers for themselves. And powerful media outlets making room in their programming, and even adorning their front pages with "new monastics." And I get a sinking feeling.

Does Jesus need a popular movement? Is the gospel message communicated more effectively by a large, organized effort? Do we need the cooperation of wealthy corporations to attract large numbers of people and achieve significant change? Who does the kingdom depend on?

My hope is that we can follow Jesus in rejecting both the power of the rulers and the power of the crowd. That we can be poor and weak (politically and organizationally as well), because our Father has given us the kingdom. "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Lk 12.32-33) We only need to embrace the gift and announce it as Jesus did, from a position of vulnerability and need, where we can best demonstrate the true meaning of faith—utter dependence on God.

Perhaps it is better to be seen as just bums, rather than as members of a recognized, growing, popular movement. Bums cared for by God. I don't think the powers of our society have much use for those, but I believe Jesus does. Ellul continues:
We have simply to be, and we can only be a question put within the world, a question invincibly confronting it. This is our efficacy. It is the efficacy of the question, a question which society and sociological movements cannot assimilate. Israel and the church have never been efficacious except to the degree that the world has been unable to assimilate them. This is the vocation of the people of God incomparably more authentic than "service" or "works."

It is not at the level of works and their results that this efficacy may be seen; it is at the level of inassimilability.

That's it. I'm thinking of submitting it to a couple "new monastic" magazines, just hoping that they will read it...

(Download this essay as a RTF file here.)