This weekend we are headed to a Lenten Retreat. The speaker is Shane Claiborne. I don't know very much about him other than his bio. I have not had the opportunity to read any of his books yet. I have to admit I am not much for retreats. I have bad memories of Christian gatherings. They often have felt cult-ish to me. I associate a lot of pressure in these settings(sharing or praying with strangers). I even find myself feeling a bit claustrophobic. You may be thinking, "Why are you putting yourself through this again?" Well, I trust the people who are putting this retreat on. Shelly in particular is an incredible person. I do not say that about too many people, but her life has been different than most Christians I have met. She said her mother gave her the New Testament when she was a teenager and said do what Jesus says and you will be ok. Shelly took this to heart. She has been striving to live in a way that is in line with what Jesus has spoken. She has been arrested several times for protesting nuclear war, her and her husband purposely make enough so they don't have to pay taxes that support war, and they intentionally live among the poor. I feel invigorated and nervous when I am around her.Her life has called me to continue to question what I believe the Bible says.
In the last several years I have found myself wanting to live out something more than the American Dream. I find this dream to lack creativity and the true teaching of the gospel. Many churches are caught up teaching a prosperity gospel, leaving the poor to fend for themselves. As Christians we are called to take care of the poor, widowed, and orphaned. We might take a few times a year to serve at a homeless shelter or participate in a work day, but we don't care anything about living in "their neighborhoods". This type of giving sets up a clear line that we the giver hold the power and you the recipient are still indebted to our kindness. This dynamic is a giant hindrance towards building relationships. We fail to see that the poor have something to offer us. They have more to teach us about the face of God and what true community can look like. There is a certain amount of dependence that the poor are acquainted with that we may never know because of our financial stability. Until we can live with each other seeing that we both possess the goodness of God then we will stay divided.
I am not sure where Will and I will end up but I hope it can be in a place where we have intentional community, somewhere we can be activists for those that have no voice.