Jesus Camp scares me

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“If Jesus came to earth again, he would disown many things that are being done in the name of Christianity.  It is not he who says ‘Lord, Lord’ that is a Christian, but “He that doeth the will of the Lord’ that is a true Christian. And cannot he, who has not heard the name of Jesus Christ, do the will of the Lord?

-Gandhi (Harijan: May 11, 1935)


Last Friday night our church community watched an amazing (and disturbing) doco called “Jesus Camp” (we laughed, we cried… we ask “what the?” ).  This is an important movie to discuss with our churches and friends who don’t share our faith. It documents “Pastor Becky’s” crusade (I used the word deliberately) to indoctrinate young people into a ‘spirituality’ of being ‘a generation of warriors for God’. It is nothing short of a ‘how to’ of Constantinian Christianity’s kids ministry on crack. It’s crazy. And it’s invading the imagination of many Christians. Like the movie “Saved” it holds a mirror to aspects of Christianity that looks nothing like Jesus and asks “What’s that?”. I found myself thinking I wish I was watching this with Stanley Hauerwas and could hear his reflections.

This film is important to see for a number of reasons:

1.        This is what Christianity means for a growing number of people (not just in America)

2.       It only takes walking into your nearest Christian bookstore to realise that this has money behind it and is getting into the mainstream even here

3.       Many educated and intelligent people think this is what charismatic/ Pentecostal/ evangelicalism is (or the gospel is!) are as turned on by it as they are by the idea of their grandad sporting the swimmers that Borat wears. 


Seeing a 10 year old kid say,  “At five I got saved. Because I just wanted more of life.”

I couldn’t help but respond with… What the?!

He was 5! Was it that climbing trees left him empty?  He realised Sesame Street and sand castles weren’t filling that whole in his life? And saved from what?  An addiction to play lunch and nap time?  The empty pursuit of kiss chasey and hop scotch?  How can I five year old know what saying yes picking up his cross and following Jesus means?  Now I’m not at all saying that kids don’t have a deep spirituality awareness, Jesus says that the kingdom belongs to these little ones. I have known many deeply spiritual little people with a beautiful and wonder-filled relationship with God who could lead us all in worship if we just watched the way they related to the world.  Some are blessed with a wonderful awareness of God at a very young age and say “yes, with gratitude” as St. Therese the little flower put it.  Hopefully our whole lives can be growing into a deeper yes and increasing gratitude.  But this sence in the video was clearly that from a very young age this kid had been taught that the gospel was fire insurance for the afterlife.  After I stopped laughing, it kind of made me feel sick.

The spirituality of these ‘camps’ is perfect to accompany sitcoms, sales and endless stimulation by mindless commercials which numb our ability to think critically, feel compassionately and dream imaginatively. In effect, it retards our ability to hear the cries of suffering that echo throughout creation and our ability to be swept up with all of creation in the glory filled worship of the God who saves not through violence but through the love revealed in Jesus.  The God who wins not through domination but through the way of the slain lamb. But a god that looks like the Jesus of the Gospels who liberate us and send the Spirit to empower us to witness to Love’s liberation of all things was starkly missing. Instead a cardboard cut out (I’m not referring to the scene in the movie where kinds seem to almost worship a poster of George W. Bush during a service), of an angry American deity who saves ‘by any means necessary’, hates it when children think critically (ie. wouldn’t dig how Jewish rabbi’s like Jesus taught in ways to make people question) was present… and scary!

Pastor Becky quote: “Let me say something about Harry Potter, Warlocks are enemies of God!… Had it been in the old Testament Harry Potter would be put to death!”

The irony that in the sixteenth century the mass genocide of women as ‘witches’ by Christians (Pastor Becky’s not onto something new) was often because they were charismatic  Spirit-filled women who were part of the radical wing of the reformation, the Anabaptists, who went out preaching a God who commands us to love our enemies in ways that look like Jesus (ie. Don’t burn them!) So they burn them.  But Pastor Becky’s emotionally coerced pseudo-mysticism for neo-fascists suffers a disturbing historical amnesia when it comes to Christian spirituality.  Not only just to the rich tradition of the desert ammas and abbas, or the Rhineland mystics, or the riches of eastern orthodox monasticism (or any number of other amazing movements) but also just 20th century Pentecostalism.  I think the one eyed black preacher at the centre of the Azusa Street revivals at the start of the 20th century, would turn in his grave to see Pentecostalism has evolved from an early movement which was a pioneer in interracial worship, seeking to recover the Christianity of the early church so reject Christians fighting in war and was liberating for women in a patriarchal society had become the lap dog for violent Empire building.  Watch this I thought of the incredible work of the “Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship” and there work of  joyfully calling people to the charismatic history of “Jesus-shaped Spirit-empowered peacemaking”.

 The spirituality documented in the film is perfect to accompany societies who are so unhealthy they have become an industrial-military-growth-complex, which institutionalise addiction to death and escapist illusions which fuel a rushing towards our destruction at the cost of the poor, the vulnerable and God’s good earth that supports us all.  Unlike the early Christians which witnessed to God’s dream for creation (the kingdom of God), the aeon of justice, peace and joy breaking in admits the cries of our groaning world, this documentary shows that there is a huge Christian ‘evangelical’ movement which witness only to the seemingly endless aeon of domination, injustice and exploitation only now in Jesus drag.  And I was so sad to read via my mate Tim, that prophetic traditions like the Mennonites are not immune to the miscellaneous-evangelical-Americana-mush which comes served in red, white and blue Styrofoam .

In my experience, what feeds the sales of not just Spong’s books but the popularity of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens evangelical atheism is a Christianity that looks nothing like Chirst. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to sharing our faith with others. It means people become Christians for the wrong reasons or don’t become Christians for the wrong reasons.  It can be easy to rip into such distortion of the gospel but it’s much harder to ask the Holy Spirit for them empowerment and wisdom to be able to examine our own Churches and our own hearts for a Christianity that prophesy’s in the name of Jesus, drives out demons and performs miracles but don’t live the way of love taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:21-23). 

Jesus asks us, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your sister’s or brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?” Gandhi reflecting on this remarked, “We must be the change we wish to see.”

I find bashing fundamentalist easy. And doesn’t it feel great.  I’m right! They’re wrong, stupid and silly!!! And that feels even better. But it is much harder to listen to the still small voice of God asking us to love our ‘inner fundi’.  And to pray for pastor Becky and all of us captive to easy answers and hate-filled religion.  Unlike Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens I don’t think the answer to bad Christianity is no Christianity. Like Peter Maurin I beleive “The best critique of the bad is the prastice of the better.” I think it’s living and inviting others to live a humble yet prophetic Christianity that looks like the nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels in ways that are good news to all of creation.  So I’ve got to go, got some log removing to do.

‘Succulent’ Kelleberrin – Hamo’s Hot Tip for Wheatbelt Coffee

The time in Kalgoorlie was excellent.

It was a combination of relaxing with Danelle and the kids and catching up with friends from the 24-7 crew. We had a great time and came home feeling blessed and revived.

So at 8.30 this morning we began the drive home…

If you are driving thru the WA wheatbelt then chances are you will have very low expectations of any food and coffee you may consume along the way. Sorry country folks, but that’s probably a fair perception!

On the way to Kalgoorlie I stopped in at Merredin and had a coffee and some food that was fairly decent, but not the stuff you’d rave about. Decent country fare, but that’s about it. Kalgoorlie has a Dome which is ok, but quite generic.

However on the way home today we stopped in Kelleberrin… Hardly the mecca for great cuisine, you would think… But having discovered a small cafe by the name of ‘Succulent’ I went inside and saw some great looking rolls and cakes. We enjoyed the rolls so much we thought we’d go back and take a risk on a coffee.

Upon closer examination it turned out they were using ‘Fiori’ coffee. And the finished product showed that they also knew what they were doing with the brew!

Who’d have thought it?

So if you’re making that long drive from Kalgoorlie to Perth and want a decent coffee then be sure and hold out until Kelleberrin and enjoy some fantastic coffee and who am i free food.

Off to Kalgoorlie

Tomorrow morning we are off to Kalgoorlie for a few days.

Its partly to hang out with a brilliant bunch of people at the 24/7 House Church Network and partly to have a bit of a break. Danelle and the kids will head out there on the train while I will drive.

We promised the kid’s a train ride, but the going to and from the train got quite complicated (and expensive) so they will train it one way and then drive back with me.

So I get 7 hours of quiet time in the car tomorrow.


Just Call me Jack

Some of you would know that earlier this year one of my paid roles came to an end. I was coaching Baptist Youth pastors, a job I loved, but a change in circumstances meant that job came to an end.

I had a couple of months where I didn’t fill the gap just in case I could generate more work with Forge and Upstream. However I found myself actually getting bored on occasions with not enough to do. So bored that I even filled in the WACOT forms and re-enlisted as a teacher. And in a moment of even greater boredom I filled in the Ed Dept forms to return as a teacher also…

After 4 months of waiting the Ed Dept have just given me a green light to teach… Woohoo…

However in the meantime I have been working on the completion of an investment house we built. I did the soakwells, reticulation and hung the venetian blinds. As much I didn’t want to do this work initially I would return home at the completion of each job with a strange sense of satisfaction – of pleasure at seeing a job completed. As most of us who work with people know, that is not a common occurence. Our jobs tend to be ongoing and endless and in that there comes an element of tiredness and frustration.

retic.gif free he s just not that into you movie download

I liked the feeling of ‘finishing something’ so much that I have actually kick-started a small business in the local area installing and repairing reticulation. I should be doing my first job in a couple of weeks time.

So now I have a bunch of different hats to wear!

However I find that when I place these in order of ‘priority’ its not too daunting. For me my Upstream and Forge WA roles are core and I won’t compromise on giving time to these whether they ‘pay’ or not. Next in line would be my Forge National Director role. Its an important role, but less of a priority than the other two, partly because I have more of a facilitatory role than a visionary leadership role.

Then comes the other stuff. The retic will get whatever free time I have and I would like to generate around a day a week of work. If we get real stuck, or if Forge funds dry up then I will do a bit of private school teaching and if that still doesn’t cut it then I will call my mate Ashley at Clarkson High and offer to mix it up with the wild crowd down there. It seems its not a popular place for relief teachers…

There are also one or two roles in the wings for next year, both of which look genuinely interesting, appeal to my passions and skill set and blend well with what I am doing already. I will likely apply for one of these part time roles.

I realise for some people this would sound like a nightmare, but I actually find it more stimulating and interesting as the different roles feed into each other in different ways. Working locally feeds into the desire to develop relationships, The two ‘un-named’ jobs both feed into the Forge WA and Forge National role. Its just a matter of trying to keep a reasonable balance and stay focused on the main things.

People have asked me ‘what if the retic business takes off and I create a monster or if I get offered loads of teaching?’ I have to simply respond that it won’t – because I won’t let it. I can just drop it if need be and I can say ‘no’ to teaching as easy as say ‘yes’.

There are plenty of jobs around where people wear ‘multiple hats’ and juggle several balls at once. Its not unlike that I guess. To be honest I hope the little retic business takes off because I’d like to do a few more things where I can see a tangible result at the end of the day!

(And sorry Roo – an online printing company (who I won’t name to protect your future business) beat you big time on price for business cards. Its a cruel world…)

Goodnews to all of creation?

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. I try to see Him and His Mercies in all these creations. But even the sunsets and sunrises would be mere hindrances if they did not help me to think of Him. Anything, which is a hinderance to the flight of the soul, is a delusion and a snare; even like the body, which often does actually hinder you in the path of salvation.”


How does this quote strike you?

This morning I write this post from under the shade of eucalypts in the Lockridge community garden that us Peace Tree crew have helped birthed with other locals. One of the things that has shaped the Peace Tree is what the Spirit has stirred in us regarding the gospel being good news for all of creation (not just humans) and considering what this means in a society that is seemingly asleep behind the shopping trolley while we hurtle towards creation destruction (for those of us who have trouble connecting the dots… that means self destruction!). The Lockridge Community Garden is an exciting and humble venture in reconciliation, permaculture, food security, the reclaiming of public space, and as Harry (showing of his crazy latin skills and penchant for St. Benedict would say) “ora et labora” (prayer and work). Because it’s a Wednesday there a number of people who are volunteering in the garden, one of which is a friend who is a Buddhist nun. I ran the quote by her for her take:

“I really like it. He seems to be talking about detachment and perception and that what is external can either help or hinder depending on your state of mind.”

What I found so interesting is that I think many Christians, not just liberals, but evangelicals would actually agree with my Buddhist friend. They would use different language (maybe language simular to what Gandhi) uses here to say,

“It’s great but don’t let it (God’s good creation) get in the way of spirituality, or relationship to God, or ‘the gospel’ or ‘eternal salvation’.”

It’s always risky to paint with broad brushstrokes but the quote above reveals something Gandhi’s worldview where he viewed the goal of faith being a spiritual salvation (moksha) form the ‘illusion of this world’ while living lives of loving service. This ‘dualism with an activist twist’ is sadly what many Christians think the gospel is about as well. Somehow today Christians often think that right relationship with each other and with the land is a secondary thought to right relationship to God. For the early Christians it was an integral part of the reconciliation of all things which God has started in Jesus.

Somehow today Christians have walked away from our calling to be image bearers and witnesses to the transformation of creation (the coming of the kingdom). Instead we have become religious vendors of ‘spirituality’ to accompany the foolish and diabolical destruction of creation. Instead of preaching ‘in Jesus the exodus from all domination has started’ we preach a neo-Gnostism of ‘in Jesus the exodus from creation has started’. As my friend Ian Barns recently wrote:

“many Christians believe that God is primarily interested in humans and their eternal salvation, and not in other creatures and ecosystems. Although the doctrine of creation (God made the world and saw that it was good) saves us from being Manichean (matter is bad, spirit is good) nonetheless, Christian worship, practice, and theology and involvement in worldly life is shaped by a practical dualism which makes us generally unconcerned about ecological issues. Moreover, the focus on issues of personal spirituality means that we fit comfortably within the utilitarian approach to the natural world that is part of modern urban and industrial life.”

“For this movement of American evangelicals, issues of abortion, same sex marriage, and stem cell research have been much more important issues than the long term health of the planet. To be sure, in February 2005, 83 prominent US evangelicals published the so-called ‘Evangelical Climate Initiative’, with a ‘Call to Action’ to governments and churches. Yet evangelical leaders such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Charles Colson and Don Carson actively opposed this initiative.”

And drawing on NT Wright issues this prophetic call:

“if we pay attention to the ‘bigger picture’ gospel that the Bible proclaims, we can see that far from being merely a temporary vehicle for us humans as we make our way to heaven, the creation is integral to God’s salvation purpose. God does not make a good creation, which he then destroys because of the disfiguring effects of human sin. Rather, his eternal purpose is that, as human creatures faithfully reflect God’s image, the created order should enter into the liberty of the children of God (Romans 8). The gospel message is that Jesus, the first born of a renewed humanity, has done what Adam, and humanity ‘ after the sinful flesh’, could not do: be the perfect image of God. Through his obedience unto death, Jesus opens the way for not just humanity, but God’s good creation, to enter into that glorious destiny God always intended.”

Living during this ecological crisis, if we are to have any integrity to the Scriptures, the early Church, and our Lord, we must preach a full gospel that is good news to all of creation. Otherwise “evangelical” will no longer be associated with ‘good news’.

Neighbourly Disputes

Unfortunately a nasty neighbourly dispute has erupted on our local ‘intranet’.

It is an interesting dilemma though so I am interested in your opinion on the issue (apart from the obvious fact that it doesn’t belong on an intranet!).

Here is it is…

Family A were one of the first families to move into the suburb and upon arrival purchased a tree for their backyard that they liked and that would grow to be a large shady tree. It is now a sizable tree and quite nice looking. However they planted it in the corner of their yard and as a result the branches overhang neighbour’s fences. It is a tree that drops leaves and pollen at different times of the year. Family A had spoken with their neighbours and agreed to keep the tree trimmed at the fenceline so as not to cause problems.

Family B (the original occupants of the neighbouring house) were ok with this, however they sold their house to Family C who decided to install a pool. In conversation family C were advised by family A that the tree was there to stay and while they would do their best to keep it trimmed, it would

divx eternal sunshine of the spotless mind drop leaves etc. It seems Family C were not happy with this arrangement, but proceeded to install their pool.

Recently Family C’s pool filter was clogged by leaves from the aforementioned tree and it cost over $300.00 to fix. Family C then hired a treelopper to prune the tree and agressively (it seems) pruned the tree right back to the fence-line leaving it out of balance and looking odd. Mrs A was deeply hurt by the degree of the pruning and felt the tree was so badly damaged as to be almost worth taking out of the ground…

She then vented on our intranet in an emotional post that was later discovered and responded to by her neighbour. Not surprisingly there are two sides to every story… and I am not in a place to say who is right and wrong here.

But it does raise some interesting questions.

> Do trees have priority over pools if they were planted first? Were Family A quite within their rights to say ‘the tree is staying

and that’s that’?

> Were family C unwise in even installing a pool near a tree like that?

> Are Family C justified in pruning the tree to the boundary even if it affects the health and appearance of the tree?

Was there a ‘third way’ solution that may have been unwieldy but may also have saved relationships? It seems that so often in disputes of all kinds the ‘simple’ solution suits one party or the other, but the ‘third way’ while more time consuming actually brings a more satisfactory result for all. But it requires more effort communication and negotiation. It seems these qualities were lacking in the attempts at resolution.

On one level this seems like a lame neighbourhood dispute that is hardly worth the time it has taken me to describe it here, but on the other hand it is the stuff that makes and breaks neighbourhoods. People find themselves unable to resolve even the simplest of disputes and ill feeling pervades the community. People ‘talk’…

This one has been unfortunately visible for all and now I imagine both parties will feel embarrassed. Its the stuff that would seriously cause people to consider moving house.

So there is the practical issue of ‘right and wrong’ that seems to me to be quite complicated, and then there is the relationship issue where we can simply tell one another to ‘piss off’ because in suburbia it is quite possible to live alongside one another and never actually have to engage.

I have some reflections that I will save for the comments, but what would you see as a way forward for the feuding families?

Is someone in the right and someone in the wrong, or is it just the complicated nature of things in neighbourhoods?

We Are the Stories We tell Ourselves

I think it was Mike Frost i heard say this – the things that we talk about actually shape our identity quite profoundly.

Tonight we took some time to refocus on who we are, what we are doing and where we are headed. We do it fairly regularly and I often lead the group thru this. Tonight we iintentionally hit it from a different angle so for those who are interested in alternative ways of sharing vision here’s what we did.

As most of the team know I am often off at other churches and conferences speaking about what we are doing and learning in suburban mission. Trying to offer learning and hope while ‘keeping it real’ (all in 25 minutes sometimes!) is quite a challenge.

So I thought I’d pose that challenge to the crew.

We split the group in half and each group was given 8 sheets of paper and a set of 50 picture cards (made from flickr and webshots)

Their task was to develop a presentation they would make to a church who enquired about what we are doing in Brighton. In many ways doing this is a test of whether we are all singing from the same sheet, so it can be a gamble! Fortunately after 4 years we have developed a fairly clear shared sense of identity and it was good to see clear themes emerge in the presentations.

Each group had to:

a) Choose an overarching biblical text to frame our work

b) Choose an image per ‘point/learning’ and then use no more than six words to describe their ‘point/learning’

c) Choose a story to tell in relation to the learning.

Here’s a summary of what each group said (minus images)

– 1 Corinthians 13 “If I do XYZ, but don’t have love I am nothing”

– Narrow the gap (between those in the community and the church)

– Love God

– Love one another

– Love the world

– Go hard or go home

– Choosing to live counter-culturally

– Persevere

– John 1:14 The word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood

– Community – God, us, other

– Leaving the familiar behind

– Taking risks

– Listening to God

– Serving

– Counter-cultural living

Its great to see the same themes emerge and to know that the DNA of who we are is firmly embedded in the group. If I were re-affirming our vision I would have hit on some very similar themes, but the actual exercise of getting others to do it forces them into a process of distillation and assessing what is critical and what is peripheral.

In the process we were able to share some great stories, have some laughs and feel focused again in what weare doing.

Dougo’s Doggerel

Rob Douglas is a good bloke and has just started a blog.

As an ex Baptist pastor in the north west and now responsible for the community aspect of Baptist Care, Rob will have some interesting things to say.

Here’s a quote from Rob’s blog “I saw the angel in the marble and I chiseled until I set it free.” — Michelangelo.

Check it out here.wild one the dvdrip download

voting for Jesus (today!)

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics understand neither.” -Mohandas K. Gandhi

“God will judge you for what you did today!!!”

If phone text messages could yell, I think this one I received might have been screaming. It was clear, not just from this sentence but the whole message (which I will not repeat) that this brother or sister (Identity withheld under the “I’m not being a fantastic witness” protection program) wanted to ‘open up a can of correction’ on me. What provoked this responce? The day of the last election we had in Australia I sent the following message to friends on my mobile phone:

“G’day, was think that while many don’t care about today, maybe if we live today for “the least of these”,  the poor and the marginalised, today could be an act of worship. Grace and peace, Jarrod.”

While it sparked some amazing conversations with people who aren’t Christians, it really upset this one Christian. Another friend message back:

“So I guess you’re voting for [insert party]? :)”

I replied,

“Who’s talking about voting for a party? I’m just talking about daily following Jesus. :)”

Political options in Australia: Howard, Rudd or… Jesus?

Jesus as a political option

Both major parties in Australia are kissing more than babies in the hope of votes. In an interesting twist it looks like political parties are “finding religion”, in the faith that this move will find them votes.  As the political master minds are plotting how to capture the Christian imagination to win their vote at the next election, I wonder what would happen if the church had it’s imagination captured by the politics of a suffering servant that saves not through tickling ears, the way of the sword, scapegoating others or by enforcing what is ‘right’ on others. Rather who saves through the suffering love of a crucified God.  I wonder what would happen if we would let the Holy Spirit empowered the church to live the politics of the kingdom of heaven instead of in our own power seeking to be ‘a force for influence’ in running the violent kingdoms of this world?I’m not talking about retreating into a holy huddles and letting the world go to hell. While Ammon Hennacy words ring in my ears, “When choosing the lesser between two evils people often forget they still chose evil”, I must admit I’m a “lapsed-Christian-anarchist” and I do vote. But I don’t think voting is my primary form of ‘political engagement’.

My political engagement happens daily living as church in community, by housing those without a home, hanging out and making food for local kids without a meal, welcoming refugees to live in our home, visiting people in prison, growing food in the garden, getting to work on my skateboard and bus, teaching the practicalities of nonviolence. And other ways God lets our lives be a megaphone of amazing grace despite the fact we’re cracked vessels (or crackpots!) 

We are to be ‘in the world but not of the world’.   So what are we to be of?  We are to be of the way of Jesus. The way of the kingdom of God.  The politics of grace.  The politics of generosity. The politics a new age where it’s not the rich but the poor who are blessed. The politics of the ministry of reconciliation. The politics of the weightier matters of law. The politics of the trust of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.  The politics of forgiveness.  The politics of peacemaking.  The politics of hungering and thirsting for the healing justice of God. The politics of sharing so ‘no one is in need’.  The politics of being a colony of heaven. The politics of seeking first God’s Reign (or kingdom) in all things.  For the early church, you could look at their life and see their politics, see who they were ‘voting for’ as their authority.  Thier words and lives spoke a different politics to the violent ruler Cesar being Lord (maybe the closest thing we have today is Prime Minister) but the crucified and risen Jesus.  Maybe the early Christians today wouldn’t say “Jesus is Lord”. Maybe they’d say, “The nonviolent Jesus of the Scriptures is Prime Minister. Come and join us in community where we can daily vote for him with our lives!”

  • For the early Christians politics wasn’t a personal decision alone in a polling both. It was a communal practice with your sisters and brothers as you together lived as church. The community of God’s grace-filled alternative to the ways of greed, lust, oppression, violence, fear and exploitation.

five people you meet in heaven the dvd download

And while many want to say Amen to the above the question comes ‘how’ do we do that. Politics classically isn’t about just who’s in ‘government’ but  how, (or the way) groups interact, organize and make decisions. (I think this is important to remember not just to keep democracy healthy but to keep church healthy! ) For the early Christians the only way you witnessed to Jesus being the Way is by living the Way (or ‘politics’) of Jesus.  By seeking the Spirit’s empowerment to live a Christ-like life, AS A COMMUNITY. To live lives that speak of God’s great clean up of creation that God has started uniquely in Jesus.

This is where I think Gandhi can be the greatest assistance to Christians today. In showing us that being obedient to Jesus is not only faithful, it’s effective in bringing real and lasting transformation.  For those that think our only options is retreating into holly huddles or alternatively those who seek to put in power a Christian version of the Ayatollah to kneecap everyone so that “every knee bows” (Calvin and others have tried it), Gandhi shows us, as Martin Luther King puts it, “Jesus gave us the means, Gandhi showed it was possible.”

Gandhi freed a nation from the biggest superpower of his day without a militia, without weapons, without running for parliament or holding a political position. How?  By the sheer force of his character that had become obedient to Jesus teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.  The politics of love are practical. Oddly enough I think Gandhi as a Hindu had a better understanding of the Christian paradigm for political engagement than most Christians seem to! The Christian paradigm is found at Calvary while trusting in resurrection power.  For it’s impossible to take up our cross and take up the ways of coercion at the same time.

Oh… for those who are interested I agree with the person who sent me the text, God will “judge [me] for what [I’ve] done”. And after reaching out and trying to hear where they’re coming from and offering to meet with them, pray with them and study the bible with them I told them I agreed:

“I too think God will judge me.  And in Matthews gospel, chapter 25 the criteria seems pretty clear. 🙂 ”