What does it mean for me to look like Jesus?

I’ve been contemplating four verses in scripture I feel are guides that reveal to me what God desires for my life in following Jesus.

  • Galatians 5:22
  • Luke 4:18
  • James 1:27
  • Micah 6:8

I want to look at these verses to help answer these questions: What is my nature? How can I be more like Jesus? What does following Jesus actually look like? How can I be good?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires.”

Galatians 5:22-24 CEB

The things mentioned in this verse are beautiful and reflective of Jesus. I think we can all recognize these things in others and also in ourselves, but we can also recognize when these fruits are absent in our lives. I don’t believe these are things to strive for, rather I believe they become natural to us the more we commit to following after Jesus.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:18-19 CEB

The things that stand out to me in this verse are “to preach good news to the poor” and “to liberate the oppressed.” I think that this verse applies to Jesus Himself, but if He is focusing on the poor and the oppressed, then as His followers, we should do the same.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

James 1:27 NLT

I think Christians spend FAR too much time on the second half of this verse and not nearly enough on the first. In Jesus time, widows and orphans WERE the oppressed. They were the marginalized of society who, if they had no other family to help them, were totally without means. Again- our focus should be on using our power for good (helping those in need).

“He has told you, human one, what is good and what the LORD requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

I feel like this verse is pretty self explanatory. We as new humans should use our power to promote justice, love mercy and be humble. These requirements should be apparent in our lives as Christ followers.


So…. what does this have to do with anti-authoritarianism?

It’s just this. The Bible has been used by people for centuries as a vehicle to exercise power over other humans. They take up “authority” standing on “biblical truth” and claim the “anointing” of God, and then proceed to tell the people who unfortunately follow them that the truth that THEY are proclaiming is “the truth.” Only by following them, and their teaching are they “really” saved. They use fear of punishment (hell) to hold power over others. They add meaningless tradition (like patriarchy and gender roles) in order to maintain power and control. THAT is Authoritarian. And I hate it. God hates it too. (Matthew 23:1-12)

My thinking is that if we can focus more on “how do I make myself look more like Jesus (a perfect human)” then people will see less of a need to “have greater faith” or “have a more biblical worldview.” The former (being like Jesus) is a practical way of using your power as a force for good in the world. The latter (being Biblical) is a trap that unscrupulous people can lay to exercise power over you.

The Duopoly

Having dialogue with those still trapped in the duopoly can sometimes feel exactly like talking to someone in a high-control group.

It feels like they don’t care about truth. They just want to echo from their side. Because their side is right. And anything not from their side is wrong.

I feel like we (anti-authoritarians) must be an enigma, because, for example…

On one hand we proclaim the benefits of a free-market.
On the other hand we stand firmly against the patriarchy.

I guarantee you those sentences triggered people who identify with the duopoly.

I’m hoping that those people recognize that there is freedom in believing that the state is not the solution in which we should place our faith.

My faith is not in a political party (or ideology). My faith is in Christ. My goal is not to use government to “make things the way they should be.” It is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and carry out His work. To build relationships with people, and not walls between them.

And I hope that knowing that we (anti-authoritarians and voluntaryists) don’t want to enforce our beliefs on anyone via government, not only builds our credibility, but enables people to hear what we have to say.

Simple truth

Life became so much more clear when I accepted the truth of this simple concept:

Government is Force.

And that is ALL it is.

Politics is just the game of who gets to possess that force.

And that is a game Christ-followers have no cause to be playing.

Celebrating Independence Day, unpatriotically

I think there is a basic mis-understanding of what patriotism means.

I’m going to use the simple dictionary definition to work with: “love for or devotion to one’s country”

Does this mean that if I don’t show love or devotion to my country, that I can’t or shouldn’t celebrate Independence Day? I don’t think so.

I don’t understand why I can’t be extraordinarily thankful for people willing to lay their lives down to serve others, and yet not consider myself “patriotic.” My thankfulness applies to individuals, not to nations.

I’m also thankful for philosophers and thinkers such as John Locke and Frederic Bastiat who understood liberty, and what the concept of “the state” represents. But that doesn’t mean I need to show unwavering devotion to “my” country. In fact understanding those great writers motivates me not to do so.

I also think sometimes patriotism is associated with the motivation behind those who fought to gain our independence from England. But, do we really believe the soldiers that fought in the American revolution were thinking “I’m going to go potentially sacrifice my life for this great country of ours!”

The concept of “a country called the United States” didn’t even exist. They were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to resist tyranny. They did it for their families, and themselves. They weren’t doing it for people living 200+ years later. And if they did have any kind of fledgling patriotism, it’s was for whichever “state” they lived in. The US after all was supposed to be a federation of “nation” states.

Jesus told us that He came to give life and give it to the full. I refuse to believe that I can only have that full life if I live in the United States. While I am thankful that I do live in a country that was founded on the principals of liberty, I don’t feel like I need to pledge allegiance to a flag that symbolizes that country. In fact that whole concept is strange to me, and I believe it would be to the founders as well. My only allegiance is to Jesus my King. He has called me to follow Him- in being the best human that I can be.

If history shows us anything, it’s that “nations” come and go. As we can see over the course of this nation’s history, the unethical rich will eventually use their wealth to rent or buy the force of the government. Knowing that this inevitably happens, why would this make me feel devotion to “a country?”

I do celebrate Independence Day. But it’s not out of patriotism.
– I celebrate the freedom that is found in the life Jesus has given me.
– I celebrate the ideas of liberty, that our lives were made by God, to live in fellowship with Him and other humans in voluntary cooperation. I am thankful for the concept of self-ownership.
– I celebrate anyone willing to sacrifice themselves for the emancipation of others.
– I celebrate people and individuals willing to stand up for truth and to resist tyranny.

But I celebrate and am thankful for people. Not “a country.” So please forgive me if I feel like I can celebrate Independence Day and yet NOT feel patriotic.

Having said all that, I don’t believe there is anything necessarily wrong with patriotism, as long as devotion doesn’t turn into idolatry. As long as it doesn’t overshadow the redemptive work of Jesus. As long as it doesn’t become contentious.

Finally, if anything i wrote offended you, I would kindly suggest that you search your heart and ask yourself if your faith, I mean your ultimate faith- your “trust”, is really in Jesus, or whether it is in systems of human force (government). 

The Purpose of Government

If we define the nature of the state as “force,” and acknowledge that it is something that can be co-opted by those who want to abuse power and turn it against us, we should ask “why would we want it to exist at all?” We need to define its purpose.

Prior to defining its purpose however, I want to define the term “government.” I would define government as “the legitimate use of the power of the state to enforce the rule of law”

I define it this way to make it distinct from “the state.” Anyone who amasses human power for themselves and rules over other humans is “the state.” I would not call this “government” though as this type of rule is actually the rule of man. But what is the difference between the rule of man and the rule of law?

Rule of law refers to a society in which people have to answer only to the law and not to the edicts or orders issued by humans. A society in which people have to respond to edicts and orders issued by humans is what is called “the rule of man.” The difference is whether the rules for society are written down and apply to everyone equally (even those in “power”), or whether they are the whim of those in power.

We should now ask the question “what is the law?” I think there is one book that defines the purpose of government better than any other and that is “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat. This passage from the opening section sums it up very well:

“What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?
    
If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.”
    
What Bastiat is saying is that the only true purpose for the law is to protect individual liberty (and property).
    
Therefore if government exists to enforce the rule of law, it’s purpose, and it’s ONLY purpose is to protect individual liberty.
   
But why must that be its only purpose?
The reason this must be the only purpose is because inevitably, in order to advance their own property, power, or ambition, people will use their existing wealth to rent the force of government to achieve their own ends. (I will discuss this in more detail in a later post.)

By limiting it’s purpose we ensure that all humans are equal under the law, and that no one human or group of humans can use the law to abuse or take advantage of others.

This further means that anytime government uses force to do anything contrary to protecting liberty, it is acting in contradiction to its purpose, and is therefore illegitimate.

Understanding the legitimate purpose of government is a huge first step in the journey towards building more quality human connections. Personally, I feel like I can have a much more transparent relationship with people who don’t want to force me to do things I don’t want to do, or prevent me by force from doing things I do want to do.

Next topic (I hope): Authority

The Purpose of Government

If we define the nature of the state as “force,” and acknowledge that it is something that can be co-opted by those who want to abuse power and turn it against us, we should ask “why would we want it to exist at all?” We need to define its purpose.

Prior to defining its purpose however, I want to define the term “government.” I would define government as “the legitimate use of the power of the state to enforce the rule of law”

I define it this way to make it distinct from “the state.” Anyone who amasses human power for themselves and rules over other humans is “the state.” I would not call this “government” though as this type of rule is actually the rule of man. But what is the difference between the rule of man and the rule of law?

Rule of law refers to a society in which people have to answer only to the law and not to the edicts or orders issued by humans. A society in which people have to respond to edicts and orders issued by humans is what is called “the rule of man.” The difference is whether the rules for society are written down and apply to everyone equally (even those in “power”), or whether they are the whim of those in power.

We should now ask the question “what is the law?” I think there is one book that defines the purpose of government better than any other and that is “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat. This passage from the opening section sums it up very well:

“What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.”

What Bastiat is saying is that the only true purpose for the law is to protect individual liberty (and property).

Therefore if government exists to enforce the rule of law, it’s purpose, and it’s ONLY purpose is to protect individual liberty.

But why must that be its only purpose?
The reason this must be the only purpose is because inevitably, in order to advance their own property, power, or ambition, people will use their existing wealth to rent the force of government to achieve their own ends. (I will discuss this in more detail in a later post.)

By limiting it’s purpose we ensure that all humans are equal under the law, and that no one human or group of humans can use the law to abuse or take advantage of others.

This further means that anytime government uses force to do anything contrary to protecting liberty, it is acting in contradiction to its purpose, and is therefore illegitimate.

Understanding the legitimate purpose of government is a huge first step in the journey towards building more quality human connections. Personally, I feel like I can have a much more transparent relationship with people who don’t want to force me to do things I don’t want to do, or prevent me by force from doing things I do want to do.

Next topic (I hope): Authority

State vs Society

I think the first thing I want to talk about is the difference between the state and society. Folks get these two things confused and I think that is a major problem and prevents so much meaningful conversation.

The nature of the state, is very simply, force. You can also call it power, or coercion. That is ALL the state is. Some people will say this view is too simplistic, but I fail to see how. In his article “Anatomy of the State,” Murray Rothbard defines the state as:

‘that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion” (p. 57)’

For any manifestation of the state that I can see in history, this is a true statement. The state has either existed as humans using coercion to enforce the rule of man, or the rule of law. But it is still, simply, force.

I would define society as human beings living in relationship with other humans in a voluntary manner. It is the sphere of life where we exist free from coercion. Where we have freedom of choice and freedom of association. It is the place for voluntary interaction between humans.

This distinction between state and society is incredibly important, because in order to remain free from coercion (which is something that I hope every reasonable person would agree is a good thing), we need to know which activities are the responsibility of the state and which ones are the responsibility of society. I will explain what activities are legitimate for the state in my next post but I want to highlight WHY we need to understand this. The reason is this: power attracts abusers of power. Any cursory examination of history reveals this. We have countless examples of humans using the power of the state to do horrific things to other humans.

This understanding is ESPECIALLY important for Jesus followers because the body of Christ should NEVER use coercion to spread the gospel or advance His kingdom. Jesus Himself explains this:

‘Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.’
Mark 10:42‭-‬43 CEB

Jesus introduced an upside down kingdom where true power is displayed in humility and servanthood. Not once in scripture does Jesus advocate the use of force to his disciples. Even when they were about to arrest Jesus he admonished his disciples:

‘Then Jesus said to him, “Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword.’
Matthew 26:52 CEB

If Jesus calls us to humility and servanthood, why then, are so many people who profess to be Christ followers obsessed with who wields the power of the state? Did Jesus say we should place our trust in the power of human force? No! He said we should trust in Him! I see that huge swaths of people who claim to have trust in Jesus give in to fear to the point where they put their trust more in the power of the state than they put their faith in the power of God. This saddens me. I hope a thoughtful discourse on this will be helpful for all of us.

I want to leave this post with a final thought. When you align yourself with a political tribe, what you are actually saying is “I’m a member of red/blue team because I want to use the power of the state to force people to do A, B, and C, and prevent by force people from doing X, Y and Z.” That’s what you are identifying yourself with. If you are first and foremost a follower of Jesus, do you think this is how He wants you to accomplish His will? I think the Gospels are very clear that He doesn’t. The body of Christ should ONLY operate within the sphere of society. Not that of the state.

Next topic: the purpose of government.

Purpose

I’m starting this blog because I feel called to. As an Enneagram 5, I’ve lived my life collecting vast quantities of information via observation. I now want to share this information, not to pontificate (ie, not to proclaim why I am right) but because I’ve mostly found the things I’ve discovered to be helpful and true.


I feel like I should mention that I’m not always right (I feel like I’m quick to point out when I’m not), but I AM always seeking out what is true. I think it is crucial in becoming a better human that one constantly test one’s own model of the world to see if it valid. Both my wife and I do this all the time. Being right isn’t important to me. Uncovering truth is. That’s why I’ve learned to enjoy dialogue with people, even with those who disagree with me. My focus is on improving relationship and community.


I don’t trust people who have dogmatically believed the same things their entire lives (in the same way) because they are either never learning, or they think they are never wrong. That’s not to say that there are not many things I believe that I will not change my mind on; it’s more to say that I’m willing to challenge my existing beliefs all the time, and yes some of them will change in the light of new learning.


Having said that, I should probably define what the core of my blog is about. Like most people (I hope) I’m deeply concerned about the divide in this country. I’m especially concerned about it for people who profess faith in Christ. The posts I make in this blog are an attempt to offer an alternative for people who are tired of living in a country dominated by this divide. It’s a new way of thinking about authority and government, and I hope it frees people to extricate themselves from that division.


My target audience is primarily people who identify as Christ followers. But it is really for anyone who wants to pursue truth and is capable of both self-reflection and changing their mind.

My two major points of emphasis are:

  • As a Christ-follower and/or someone who cares about relationship/community, how can I re-frame my understanding of politics to break down walls instead of bolster them up?
  • What is my relationship to “authority?”

I will try to include other topics I am interested in, especially ones that are not well known or are considered counter-cultural.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.