Shane Claiborne from the simple way community in Philly was quite simply awesome on Wednesday night... and I wanted to capture my notes in one place. I stress that these are my notes and not necessarily direct quotes.
We kicked off with my pal, Paul Ede, who quoted from Scripture...
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."
2 Corinthians 8:9 (New International Version)
...and challenged everyone by encouraging us to make poverty personal. He dismissed the use of this verse with the nonsense known as prosperity theology and asked the gathering how many friends we had on the margins... Honestly, I think I have one.
He then quoted more Scripture...
"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us."
1 Thessalonians 2:8 (New International Version)
Its about giving our lives as much as it is about giving our money... reminds me of the Derek Webb song Rich Young Ruler. Check it out.
Over to Shane. He had the most infectious laugh and sweetest deep south drawl... y'all!!!
He opened by quoting research undertaken by the Barna Institute called Unchristian :: The research looked at Joe Public's views and perceptions of Christians. Their top 3 perceptions were...
* Anti-GayBang on... to me. We have a terrible image crisis thing going on... where we are classed as BIGOTS instead of being known for LOVE, GRACE and COMMUNITY.
Shane spoke of his time growing up in the deep south. He spoke of his perception of the church where they were obsessed with making believers... but weren't good/interesting in making disciples / followers.
"...if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."
1 Corinthians 13:2 (New International Version)
He then spoke of reading/realising how Jesus turned things on its head... taking dirt and spit in a community anal about cleanliness and using it for healing and redemption. The whole first/last and last/first became clear to him...
Christians should be known for doing what Jesus did... instead of the bigotry/hypocrisy/judgementalism that they are.
He then spoke of how we ARE born again... but we are born into an extremely dysfunctional family.
"All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."
Acts 2: 44-45 (New International Version)
Shane then went on to tell his story... referencing the above verse... emphasizing that there weren't any needy people.
He spoke of community... and said that community... in some way... is surrounding yourself with people you want to be... so that a small part of them rubs off on you. Interesting perspective.
He then discussed the kingdom of God being down here as well as being up there... Jesus teaches us how to live in the here and now... belief is not just for when we die. This isn't a Left Behind novel.
To live for the kingdom of God on Earth we must resist the principalities and powers (ie the Government and bureaucracy etc) with courage and imagination - we serve a King who rules with a towel not a sword. Upside down and awesome!
Shane called us to be relevant but peculiar - this touched a chord with me. We need to be relevant and in the world... but we need to stand out in our peculiarness because we are not of this world and do not conform to its customs and ways of thinking.
In this... he name checked the Make Poverty History campaign and laughed about how Bono's work was Biblical...
"I tell you that if these should keep silent, the rockstars would immediately cry out.”
Luke 19:40 (New King James Version) [slightly tweaked]
He then challenged the gathering by saying that we shouldn't wait for the Government to do what the church is MEANT to be.
Extreme times give birth to extremists. We need to be known... not as extremists for hatred... but extremists of love!
Wow..! Truly awesome... and inspirational.
He spoke some more with the FAB Brooke, from the Simple Way, in a Q&A session. One thing I picked up on was that every member of the community worked part-time so they could be present with their neighbours in Kensington... the poorest neighbourhood in Philadelphia.
Kudos to Shane and Brooke for being heroes of our age... and showing simply that their is another way. That Christians aren't all anti-gay, hypocritical and judgemental... but have love, grace and can demonstrate true community.
He has a new book coming out :: Jesus for President :: that looks fresh...
Amid all the buzz of politics and elections, Jesus for President is a refreshing reminder that our ultimate hope lies not in partisan political options but in the Jesus who gave his life for us. Politics for ordinary radicals who want to love the world into the kingdom of God.
Synopsis from website
Go Shane! Go Brooke! We need more people like you.
Oh and Shane... if you read this... let's grab some food at Roots 08 (I wish... huh??? :-))