Sunday night our church hosted Shane Claiborne, co-author of Jesus for President and The Irresistible Revolution for a time of worship and conversation. In the past few months I’ve been reading and processing Jesus for President, and it’s definitely been one of the most formative books I’ve read in a long, long time, so I was super excited to hear that we would get a chance to hear Shane in person. I was also glad that it was something that Clay and I could learn from together since he still hasn’t read the book. (despite much encouragement from me!) We were definitely not disappointed, listening to Shane’s thoughts and experiences were great conversation topics for Clay and me on the way home, and he definitely expounded on some things that we have been asking ourselves lately anyway and helped us to take it just a bit deeper.
Here are a few things that he said that stood-out to me (somewhat paraphrased):
*Christianity spreads best not by force but by fascination.
*Rather than the church trying so hard to be relevant, we should probably expect to be a bit peculiar. Maybe we should look to the Amish to show us how to create a contrast culture within the world.
– At this point he reminded us of the incident where a shooter killed several Amish children in a schoolhouse a few years back. What stood-out most from that tragedy was the way the Amish community reacted to the shooter’s widow and children. They were forgiven, embraced, and welcomed as family. They attended his funeral and gave a portion of the money that was given to the Amish families to the shooter’s widow and children. The Amish are very intentional about seeing themselves as citizens of the kingdom of God before their citizenship on earth, and their radical forgiveness was a testimony to the world of a people who put the values of Jesus ahead of their own feelings and the world’s standards of justice and entitlement. People were baffled by their actions, they could not understand a reaction like that to someone who had done them so much harm. When the Church follows the teachings of Jesus in a literal and serious way, we’re likely to be somewhat peculiar and odd to what is considered normal in our culture.
It made Clay and I wonder if there were things in our lives that would appear peculiar and strange to others… in what ways are we living-out our citizenship in a contrast culture? I’m so over the idea that the Church has to somehow be cool enough to attract people, that they’ll want to hang-out with us because we’re so much like them. Instead, I think that we should probably be weirding them out a good bit, but in a way that strikes their soul and makes them realize that they were created for the alternative reality that we embody.
*Does my Christianity remind others of Jesus? What are others’ perceptions?
– He began by talking about the time when John the Baptist asked Jesus if He was the Messiah they had been waiting for.
Jesus replied, “Go back to John and tell him what you hear and have seen for yourself, that the blind and lame and lepers and deaf are healed, the dead are raised up, and the poor hear the good news of God’s kingdom. Happy is he who has no doubts about me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)
In other words, Jesus knew that there was plenty of evidence by His life and work to show people that He was indeed the Messiah. He didn’t go into a long explanation of all the reasons and proof that He was who He said He was… He knew it was obvious if people were actually paying attention. Similarly, does our life and work give evidence to others that we are His followers? Are there things about us that make us peculiar enough to the world to where it’s obvious that we’re different? If someone was to ask me if I’m a Christian, could I respond by saying, “Well, what do you see in my life? What do you think? Does it look like Jesus?”
To Be Continued…