Subtitle: Some very inspiring words
I just finished a book entitled “The Twenty Piece Shuffle” by Greg Paul. It is about a ministry to the poor in the Toronto area. Greg Paul has done such a great job in putting us inside this ministry by telling stories of those who have frequented the mission over the years. It is a very worthwhile read to anyone who would like to understand more about these types of missions and the people who frequent them. At the end of the book Greg bears his heart via the following words
God, I believe, has granted me resources of intelligence, health, money, emotional stability, position, citizenship, and much much more in the expectation that I will use those resources to lift up my brothers and sisters who are depressed, set free those who are oppressed, seek healing for those who are afflicted, and share with those who are destitute.
God does command, over and over, those who are rich and powerful – the 1 or 2 percent of the world’s population that includes the majority of us living in first world nations – to engage with and care for our poorest “neighbors” spiritually, materially, emotionally, and politically. So clear and consistent is this message, so redolent with it is the life and teaching of Jesus, that it must be said: A wealthy person who claims to follow Jesus and des not find some way to share his or her life and material goods with people who are poor has stumbled off the Way.
If we could just get this message across to more of us who are rich and powerful wouldn’t it help God’s kingdom come on earth. If you are ready to be surprised by some of the people in this book both for their gentleness and their grittiness then you should pick up a copy of this book.
Let me start out by telling you that this post is not about Jesus being a radical but there is definitely some truth to that statement and I will address that in a future post. I know this title is kind of confusing. Is there really such a thing as an “ordinary” radical. I don’t know but that is what Shane Clairborne calls himself. Shane is one of those few people who really seems to live out the words of Jesus Christ. Yes, he is an out-of-the-box thinker and doer who is part of an organization called “The Simple Way”. Shane and the people in his group live a very simple community lifestyle. They take the words of Jesus to the streets of Philadelphia by witnessing, through their actions as well as words, to the poor and undernourished (both physically and spiritually). I sometimes like to think of myself as a radical. After all I was in college in the 60’s. But, to tell the truth, I was working 40-50 hours a week in order to pay my way through college and also taking almost a full academic load so there was really no time for those pesky demonstrations that were happening all around me at the time. I am kind of ashamed to say that I have lived my life pretty much as most others do. Maybe I am a radical in thought only but I have been trying to change that lately!
Let’s get back to Shane. He has written several books including one from which I pulled the moniker above. It is entitled “The Irresistible Revolution – living as an ordinary radical”. This book totally blew me away when I read it! How can a young man, at least young by my standards, have such wisdom about Christian living! Tony Campolo’s remarks at the front of the book does a very good job of expressing my thoughts. He wrote
“Shane expresses the kind of authentic Christianity that most of us are trying to avoid because the cost is too great. He proposes a lifestyle that prophetically proclaims what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the twenty-first century”.
I highly recommend this book, and any of the others he has written. But, I must admit these books are not for those who think we are doing just fine in our Christian living and outreach. I gave a copy to my pastor to read and the first thing he said after reading it was that “the author doesn’t think much of churches today and he is kind of a communist”. According to Wikipedia’s listing for Shane Clairborne, my pastor’s views are shared by other social conservatives in the Christian Evangelical community. I was expecting my pastor, like me, to hook up with the zeal and passion that Clairborne has for Christ but that was not to be. But don’t hold my pastor’s comments against me even if I am not running for president. Maybe I am a radical after all. If you have an open mind and are ready to admit that we, as 21st century Christian, can do a better job of living according to the words of Christ and in reaching out to the community (especially the youth) then you can learn things from this young man. Their website in listed in my blogroll if you care to visit them.