Did you take a book home from the house party bookstall? Or do you have one still to read from a previous house party. Today’s task is to pick up that book and start reading it (if you haven’t already!). If you’re at school and still enjoying your holidays, there’s no better opportunity to have a read!
I want to share with you a passage from one of my favourite books on the bookstall at the moment; The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. When I read it for the first time a few years ago, it completely changed my perspective on my faith and how I was going about my life as a Christian.
“A friend and I prepared a video clip once for a worship service. Our goal was to capture people’s responses to the word Christian, so we took a video camera and hit the streets, from the trendy arts district to the suburbs. We asked people to say the first word that came to mind in response to each word we said: “snow,” “eagles” (it’s Philly), “teenagers,” and finally “Christian.” When people heard the word Christian, they stopped in their tracks. I will never forget their responses: “fake,” “hypocrites,” “church,” “boring.” One guy even said, “used-to-be-one” (sort of one word). I will also never forget what they didn’t say. Not one of the people we asked that day said “love.” No one said “grace.” No one said “community.” We live in an age in which people, when they hear the word Christian, are much more likely to think of people who hate gays than people who love outcasts, and that is a dangerous thing. Bumper stickers and buttons read, “Jesus, save me from your followers.” Over and over I see people rejecting God because of the mess they see in the church. As contemporary author and ragamuffin Brennan Manning says, “The greatest cause of atheism is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.””
Shane Claiborne’s talking about his experiences in the north east of the USA, but maybe you might feel that the Christian church closer to home also doesn’t have a particularly good ‘image’. Often it’s negative stories about internal politics that make the headlines rather than the many positive things that I believe the church does.
But arguably what is more important here is having a think about how we are ambassadors for Christ – we are the living representatives of Christianity amongst our families, our friends and the people we meet each day. How we behave will influence what other people think about Christianity and the church. Most of the time, what we do and the lifestyle that we choose to have has a much bigger impact on people’s attitudes than what comes out of our mouths. Shane Claiborne took this to the next level by setting up his own Christian community and church so that he could put this into action.
It might be a bit depressing that our faith might not have a great reputation in some circles, maybe including those we circulate in – school, our unis, work. But we also have the opportunity to make a real difference in our spheres of influence. And that is ultimately what I believe it means to be doing God’s work on earth; start small and see where it takes you!
I can’t recommend The Irresistible Revolution enough if you haven’t read it! If you don’t have a copy it’s available as an e-book so you can download and start reading straight away, or alternatively you can order a physical copy online.