Jesus said you must hate your mother and father and love your enemies. This is not obtuse provocation, but it’s spiritual deployment of true identity, which no longer resides in skin color combination, ideology, genealogy, name, people, places and things, but in the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humankind, which is ruled by love at any cost.
Love your neighbor as yourself. Christ’s words, and the example of his life and death — albeit strange and socially unsuccessful (he lived and died unpopular and in poverty) — were equally sublime and sacrificial. To gain access to true love and true self, you must die to yourself, to your family, to your heritage, your narrow-minded ideology, your ego, your ill-conditioned consciousness and your false identity.
You must eradicate all the corrupt, theological fearmongering they preach from the pulpit and from behind the political podium. Get real and get right with God. Go in your closet and pray for your enemies. You must take up the cross and follow that narrow path of sacrifice and love and service.
You must love your neighbor, love your enemies, serve the poor, give everything away and put yourself last. This goes against everything the world has taught you, and it goes against your instinct and it most certainly goes against the laws of free enterprise and corporate interests.
Money and power and governments are fraudulent and false gods. We must be in the world not of the world.
When Jesus Christ says, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” he acknowledges it as a necessary evil (and throws some shade), but he also compels us to participate honestly and responsibly and with righteousness and stewardship in a faulty and dysfunctional society even as we are called to be ideologically and socially disposed.
We must acknowledge that the real substance of life has nothing to do with money or power or prestige or greatness. Your money and your power must be given away (as tax and tithe and service to others). To gain your life is to lose it. To lose your life is to gain it. The life you live is not your own. Give your life away.
Sufjan Stevens is a singer-songwriter living in New York City. This piece was first published on his website.