Monday, June 30, 2008

The Irresistible Revolution

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any word from the New Testament and forget everything except your pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."
(Soren Kierkegaard)

I just finished Shane Caliborne's "The Irresistible Revolution" at the weekend. This guy is a radical. A lover of Jesus, and a man of conviction.
He is the co-founder of a community of believers in Philadelphia called The Simple Way. The book isn't necessarily an autobiography, but it comes close enough. Close enough to let you know a sense of why Claiborne is at the place he is in his walk with Christ.
He's a guy who realises that all people are people of unsurpassable worth. He has gone from feeding and joining the homeless in Philadelphia, to dressing the wounds of lepers in Calcutta, to visiting families in Iraq. All to share the love of Jesus with them, in a practical way.

"I can remember when Christianity was still safe, comfortable, trendy. I must have gotten born again six or eight times. Preachers were telling me to lay my life down at the foot of the cross, but weren't giving me anything to pick up. I had become a 'believer,' but I had no idea how to become a follower. People had taught me what Christians believe, but no one had taught me how Christians live."

This comment is so true of most churches. Do pastors really tell their congregation how to live as Christians? Sure they may tell them what not to do...but do they really tell them how to live? How to live a kingdom lifestyle? How to live a life as Jesus did.

I asked participants who claimed to be "strong followers of Jesus" whether Jesus spent time with the poor. Nearly 80 percent said yes. Later in the survey, I sneaked in another question, I asked this same group of strong followers whether they spent time wit the poor, and less than 2 percent said they did. I learned a powerful lesson: We can admire and worship jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. i had come to see that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.

His message is incredibly challenging. Do we know the poor? Is Jesus going to applaud us for dropping money in our church collection or for doing a charity fun run, or for giving money to a local charity?
Or is he going to ask us what about the people behind all his charity? Do you know any of their names? Did you take any time out to spend it with them with no agenda except to show them the grace and love of Jesus? Did you do this and not tell anyone? These are questions I am asking of myself aswell as perhaps you.

"At that moment, we decided to stop complaining about the church we saw, and we set our hearts on becoming the church we dreamed of."

Boyd has commented lately about this new sense of kingdom urgency and an awakening of people to the true message of Jesus.

Millions of people are abandoning the Christendom paradigm of the traditional Christian faith in order to become more authentic followers of Jesus. From the Emergent Church movement to the Urban Monastic Movement to a thousand other independent groups and movements, people are waking up to the truth that the Kingdom of God looks like Jesus and that the heart of Christianity is simply imitating him. Millions are waking up to the truth that followers of Jesus are called to love the unlovable, serve the oppressed, live in solidarity with the poor, proclaim Good News to the lost and be willing to lay down our life for our enemies. Multitudes are waking up to the truth that the distinctive mark of the Kingdom is the complete rejection of all hatred and violence and the complete reliance on love and service of others, including our worst enemies. Masses of people are waking up to the truth that followers of Jesus aren't called to try to win the world by acquiring power over others but by exercising power under others -- the power of self-sacrificial love.

I want to be a true disciple of Jesus and perhaps at the end of the year I'll be able to say wih true conviction that "I met Jesus and he wrecked my life." in the most positive manner of course. I want my world to be turned upside down and to know what it is like to live as Jesus would have me live.