Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shane Claiborne: A Preacher in an Unexpected Package

Me Beaming with Shane and my 14-year-old Kalin

Okay so, I'm not going to start this blog like I did Coffee With Dennis Rainey. I'm not going to say that I hung out with Shane Claiborne tonight. Although I did hang out with Shane Claiborne (exhibit A: photo above). No, I'll come right out and admit it. I and about three hundred other people hung out with Shane tonight in a chapel service at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

On a serious note, though, hearing Shane live was really a treat. I'd been wanting to hear from this best-selling author and self proclaimed "prominent Christian activist, sought-after speaker, and a recovering sinner" for years now. So when I heard he'd be speaking only fifteen minutes away, I grabbed my son Kalin and made my way.

For those unfamiliar with him, Shane writes and speaks all over the world about peacemaking, social justice and Jesus. With his shaggy goatee, dreadlocs swinging down his back and simple clothes, he'd be the last person you'd i.d. as the preacher in the room. Kind of like the plain, but powerful Mother Teresa, with whom he spent ten weeks working alongside in Calcutta, India. Shane's wardrobe, haircut and "package" don't command attention. Oh, but when he opens his mouth... Now that's another story.

With an Eastern Tennessee twang in his voice, Shane began speaking about his hope for "another world." He began with the biblical story of Lazarus and the rich man found in Luke 16:19-31. He stated that sadly, "the rich man's religion did nothing to bridge the chasm between him and the poor. Could it be that the rich man and the poor man would have been better without this wall?"

He then brought us back to the present, mentioning that the United States, the wealthiest country in the world, is home to some of the loneliest, depressed and suicidal people in the world. Maybe the rich people here could also benefit from the breaking down of this wall?

"Maybe God's got a dream bigger than Wall Street's dream," said Shane. Perhaps a large part of God's dream can be summarized in one word: justice.

Quoting noted intellectual and social justice advocate Dr. Cornel West, he said, "Justice is what love looks like in public." And like Dr. West, Shane has committed his life to the poor and disenfranchised. And he's paid greatly for that commitment.

Shane said he's always amazed at other people's testimonies that consist of them meeting Jesus and everything in life coming all together. In contrast, Shane said, "I had my life together and then I met Jesus. My life's been a mess ever since!"

He talked about a time he and some friends went to court for feeding a group of homeless people, against the law in that town. When he went to court, he wore a t-shirt that read, "Jesus was homeless." When the judge questioned the slogan, Shane explained Jesus' words in Luke 9:58, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

The judge's verdict: Shane and his crew had broken the law, but they had broken an unjust law. He concluded that if past unjust laws had not been broken, our country would still have slavery today. Needless to say, the so-called law offenders were set free with all charges dropped.

He concluded by stating that when we get to heaven, God won't say, "Okay, so what's your view on the virgin birth?" No, His words will sound a lot more like this:
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
Oh how I long to hear those words from my Savior one day. In the meantime, I've got a lot more to do here on earth. I sure hope you'll join me.

Living For Justice and Mercy,


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