Shane Claiborne will speak to the risks of practicing discipleship. Shane is the co-founder of the Simple Way, a faith community in inner-city Philadelphia that has helped to birth and connect radical faith communities around the world. His ministry experience is varied, from a 10-week stint working alongside Mother Teresa in Calcutta to a year spent serving a wealthy mega-congregation called Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago. Shane is the author of several books including “The Irresistible Revolution”, “Jesus for President” and “Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers.”
Thanks to my friend, Dr. Horty @ IT IS WHAT IT IS for the inspiration and hope. Love you, my sister.
Where do you go when your world is being challenged from all sides? I know you have been there because you and I are not uniquely different and, trust me, I have spent a lot of time begging the above verse penned by the authors of Psalms. It is my signature plea to a timeless, Universal entity whom I name God. You may name yours by another name, but when we cast aside man’s theological philosophies there is just one who is the I AM.
I like the word phrasing, “rock of refuge.” It inspires in my mind a place, or state of consciousness, which is protected from the ravages of an insane world, a place where the intents of vile men cannot reach me, a sanctuary which can conceal me even from the evil which exists within. The rock is strong, impenetrable and secure. Amazingly, it does not erode with the forces of nature or the passage of time. On the contrary, it grows and becomes stronger.
And, it is a “stronghold for my deliverance.” As much as I would like to attribute all my factory defects to environment and circumstance, when I find that inner place of honesty and transparency, I realize that I need desperately to be delivered from myself and the character traits which make my personal world insane and unmanageable. “Turn you ear to me, rescue me quickly” from that which seeks to destroy me – anger, envy, greed, gluttony, pride, sloth, and lust.
Social injustice, poverty, oppression, national politics are also issues that can cause severe conflict if I don’t have a rock to sort everything and place priorities on those issues. Approaching wickedness and uncivility with a peaceable intervention does not imply a lack of conviction. I do not need to scream and rant to show the outside world that I am incensed by a corrupt political system. Jesus overturned the tax collectors’ tables efficiently and forcefully, but I don’t see in the Bible any accounts of screaming, violence, and profanity. Jesus also had that rock as his fortress and refuge. He had his personal inner conviction guiding his actions, but he relied on the strength of the rock whom he called Father.
Many people want to contradict the existence of a rock, they vehemently deny with substantial energy that God is not. That’s OK, I at one time was one of them. Stridently ridiculing those of faith and defying them to prove their faith was a hallmark of my youth. I was the intelligent one, they were the dupes.
Only when alcoholism forced me to my knees, did I decide to stay on my knees for a few moments longer and say a prayer, plead to the unfamiliar rock and fortress which I had ridiculed and discredited for many years. With no more arguments, nothing to lose, I was in desperate need of relief from myself and my atheism.
My church foundation as a young boy was based on old time preaching and music. We sang “ROCK OF AGES” probably every Sunday. “Rock of ages cleft for me.” It’s a stunning visual for lost souls – a fissure in a solid rock wall split to provide protection and comfort from the elements of our personal storms. Why would anyone not want to believe?
In his daily writing for July 8th Father Richard Rohr , a proponent of social justice, states that most of the negative feedback he receives advises him to not get too political. He responds,
“Yet how can I read the Bible and stay out of politics? Again and again (approximately 2,000 times!) Scripture calls for justice for the poor. The Gospel is rather “socialist” in its emphasis on sharing resources and caring for those in need.”
Well said. If I read in Scriptures about the life and works of Jesus, the Christ, if I profess this same Jesus as my Lord, if I receive Jesus within my heart and pattern my life according to His, then how can I not be political? Jesus was the ultimate petitioner for the poor and needy. He opposed the wealth of the greedy, the corruption of Judaism, and the oppression of Rome in his ministry to the downtrodden of Israel. He did so knowing that his would not be a pleasant trip through an earthly life and that a violent death awaited him on the cross. Yet, in human form he persisted because that is what humanity is supposed to do. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked and heal the sick regardless of the consequences.
“The primary role of religion and spirituality is to reconnect, the very meaning of the Latin word “religio”. The Greek word “polis”—which led to the word politics—simply means city or public forum, where people come together. Why have religion and politics become so antagonistic when they have similar goals?” Richard Rohr
America boasts its Christian roots. History tells us that Christians were at the forefront of social movements to end slavery, support women’s rights, encourage laws providing civil rights, Mediare, Social Security, and Medicaid. Most famously America has welcomed the downtrodden and oppressed from other nations regardless of creed or race. We are a beacon of hope to the hopeless, a land of opportunity for everyone.
The Gospel is often called the Good News because it carries a message of not only redemption, but also hope for those who have no hope. The refugee, the widow, the orphan, the persecuted, the outcasts of society are the target of Jesus’ ministry today just as back in 1st century Israel. The oppressed are empowered by words which tell them that God loves them equally regardless of social status, wealth or faith profession. Because of that Good News we know that all mankind dwells within the family of a mighty and just God.
14 My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? 15 Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. 16 What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? 17 In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity. JAMES 2:14-17 CEB
The above verse from the Book of James is well-known in recovery programs. It reminds me that my success in defeating alcohol has been a miracle, a gift from the Higher Power of my understanding. But, it is not free. A continued and contented sobriety requires payments. Service to others is written on my IOU to God. “Faith without works is dead.”
“Today I am encouraged to see many of my Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist brothers and sisters actively engaged with the political realm, speaking truth to power, and holding our political leaders accountable. Being political is a basic civic, human, and spiritual duty!” Richard Rohr