A Radical Jesus and imitatio Christi?

Since Jesus is a cultural icon, it is not surprising when he gets co-opted to support our politics, whether the Jesus of free-market capitalism (HT Scott McKnight) or the Jesus of Occupy (HT Jim West).  But my last series suggested that Jesus, at least as our first narrative gospel Mark represents him, was something of a radical (rejecting the values of the contemporary social order with a vision of a new one he called “the kingdom of God”, challenging the politically powerful, overturning the tables of the money changers in the Temple as a public protest against injustice, advocating the absolute renounciation of wealth, etc).  Granting the huge historical distance between an agrarian context in Galilee under Roman imperial rule and some contemporary socio-economic arrangements as well as that some radical demands in the Gospels may seem contingent on the expectation of imminent eschatological reversal (e.g., there is no time to say goodbye to family, to bury ones father, to store treasures on earth, to not give the kingdom one’s absolute commitment above all else [kinship, occupation, possessions], etc.), what does a radical Jesus mean for those who claim to be his followers?  This issue seems to be especially important at Christmas when many in the pews gather to ponder the Incarnation and what it means to incarnate Christ’s presence on earth today as Christians.  I really have no answer to what exactly is entailed for a contemporary community of faith to concede a radical Jesus/early Jesus community (e.g., Should we all become liberation theologians?  Or admit our hypocrisy here and accept a Lutheran reading that perfection is unattainable so we need to fall back on grace? Or whatever other theological solutions?), so please share your own views in the comments section.

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