In the previous two posts I've looked at the figures of Paul and Judas and proposed that both of them, in their separate ways, were 'strategists'. They wanted things done, wanted to give Jesus an amazing opportunity. And they had ideas about how to do that. Judas and his catalyzing a revolution; Paul and his appeal to Caesar. Jesus can begin to fight, and Paul can declare Christ's message in Rome: the centre of power.
But Jesus appears to confound all strategies. His incarnation is without fanfare. He tries to stop people talking about healings, he slips away for days at a time, and refuses even to defend himself against trumped up charges.
In the recent Adam Curtis documentary, 'The Trap', Curtis suggests that much of the distrust we see in modern life is rooted in the Game Theories that became popular in the Cold War. In a popular Game Theory problem, 'The Prisoner's Dilemma' it turns out that our best strategy is not to trust one another. If we want to win, we need to be selfish.
It struck me during that documentary that what Christ is doing when he stays silent at his trial is refusing to even enter the game that the strategists plotting against him have set up. It is as if he deliberately loses, because by losing he is totally subverting the very idea of the game.
And this is where Paul and Judas go terribly wrong. Presented with amazing opportunities to 'do something for Jesus', they fall into strategy, they throw their chips in and enter the game. Why didn't Paul imitate Christ and keep his mouth shut? Because his strategy was always to get taken to Rome, and to take part in a 'power play' with Caesar.
On the cross the religious leaders taunted Jesus - if he's so powerful, why doesn't he save himself? This was the final temptation Jesus faced, the same one the devil ended with in the desert: take part in the power play. Jesus emptied himself of all that power, emptied himself of strategies, because he had to be emptied of the Self - the Self that pretends that it is powerful and influential. The Self that pushes the ego forward, rather than looking to the Other.
It is the same temptation that we face today. And my concern is that the movement known as the 'Emerging Church' is going to be tempted to be 'strategic' - to enter power-plays. And I think this would be a very wrong route. Which is where I'll end in the next post.