Blasphemy & Missional Solidarity

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“My experience tells me that the Kingdom of God is within us, and that we can realise it not by saying, “Lord, Lord,” but by doing God’s will and God’s work… Do you know that there are thousands of villages where people are starving and are on the brink of ruin? If we would listen to the voice of God, I assure you we would hear God say we are taking God’s name in vain if we do not think of the poor and help them.  If you cannot render the help that they need, it is no use talking of service of God and service of the poor. Try to identify yourself with the poor by actually helping them.”

Mohandas Gandhi, (March 31, 1927) from “Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings” by John Dear, p. 81


I don’t think there would be many who would argue that as Christians we can affirm with Gandhi that “we are taking God’s name in vain if we do not think of the poor and help them.”

And while Radiohead’s fans are excited the bands been thinking creatively about questions of economics and how they distribute there next album, what does that look like in our lives as God’s people? (economics and justice that is, not so much our next album distribution) Does it look different from the bands PR exercise (not that I’m not stoked Radiohead are letting me decide what to pay for their next album!)

What does it look like to move from ‘church charity’ run by some sweet old ladies, to being ecclesia of missional solidarity?  (not to disrespect radical nannas everywhere doing awesome stuff!)

For you or your community what does ‘doing God’s will’ when it comes to ‘the least of these’ look like? What are you inspired by, that it might look like? What do you long for it to look like?

Our crew have really struggled with this stuff. I don’t mean struggle in the noble sense. I mean struggle in the sense of it being bloody hard! Nearly as hard as living with each other 🙂  And like much of our life as community, it’s left us with not much to show other than some colourful (and painful) stories and a burning desire for God, for healing, for justice, for the kingdom and an awareness of our own brokenness and sin. Should we all move overseas to the slums we have only visited with our expensive cameras? Should we all just join UNOH?  What does it mean to practice hospitality when you’re continually stolen from, physically threatened and taken advantage of?  When all you’re left with is their used needles, hardcore porn, broken promises, and debt. When you show up in court to support them but they dont. When you’re dumped with other people’s toddlers for days on end while they get high and you have to decided do you ring DCD and your only comfort is the lament of the Psalmist and your sisters and brothers prayers. Only to find out that our parts of the body of Christ are bagging you out without praying for you or seeking to correct or encourage you. Please don’t hear me writting these things out of bitterness. I write as a brother struggling with what “actually helping them” (as Gandhi put it) looks like (anybody else?).  Sometimes I come out of visiting in prison and just feel like crying for a day. Maybe these are the stories we need to tell too aswell as the times we come out feeling totally inspired.

Recently I was contacted by a pastor (of what most would consider a successful mainstream church), who had opened up his home to someone who had lived on the streets for years. This Pastor wanted to talk through the heart ache of seeing someone throw away the opportunities offered to him because he was stuck in cycles he couldn’t break out of. Maybe these stories are as important to share as the “success stories”? Maybe these are the stories that can ween us of the quick fixes and easy answers that we can so often hear to our worlds deepest problems. Maybe if we told these ones too we’d celebrate God’s transforming grace all the more! And real joy would truely be our strength.

Some of our crew were recently hanging out with a similar community to us in the States called ‘The Simple Way’. The Simple Way have a huge public influence through the success of Shane Claiborne’s wonderful book “The Irresistible Revolution” (which I highly recommend!!)  But we were joking if we were to write a book it would be “A how [not] to” (shout outs to Pete Rollins who I also highly recommend!!!!).  Maybe our book would be called ‘The Resistible Revolution’ or ‘The Very Resistible Revolution’. 🙂

So for those of us who believe James 2:15-16 is part of the inspired Scriptures what does this look like in a world where 3 billion of God’s children live on less than 2 dollars a day?

Who are a good example of an alternative?  Is Gandhi a good example?  Is St. Francis of Assisi? Is our Lord? (Seriously!) If we say they are (or if we say ‘Jesus is Lord’) what does that look like for us as the church practically?  Who are the communities or people who inspiring you to see Christ glorified in the churches response to  poverty and ‘affluenza’? What churches in your city have encouraged you in the journey by their witness?

Anybody else need to voice failed efforts 🙂 Prayerfully reading the quote from Gandhi, what does God stir in you?

10 thoughts on “Blasphemy & Missional Solidarity

  1. Pingback: Jarrod McKenna « There goes rhymin Simon

  2. thanks Jarrod.

    love that last image, very good.

    It is funny how often I come across as the angry guy that thinks he is the only one who is right. I know that is how I sound, but how I feel is I am one of the few people that admits I don’t have a clue. The further I get down this path, the more I don’t know what to do. How to react how to live. I appreciate how you guys are dealing with these issues, and I really appreciate the relationship we have built around these questions. I feel like I am starting to get it! and then I wind up further and deeper in question. I think thats the point, as soon as we have it figured out, we stop relying on God.

    I pray for you, and for everyone else listening that you would always be questioning, never be satisfied, and joyful along the way.


  3. Without wanting to blow my own trumpet, I’d have to say we’ve done pretty well. We’ve achieved every goal we’ve set, seen every life we’ve tried to touch turned around…

    I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.

    I think I’d rather try and fail. I don’t think God would mind that kind of failure so much.

  4. This is the stuff that has been getting me thinking prior to our trip back home in Nov. Just had a couple, very lovely, very broken, very Christian freegans come over for dinner and our meeting last week. They have just moved to Sheffield and I found their honesty and simplicity refreshing They really challenged us by their very being among us. I suspect they will be hard work for middle class English evangelicalism – indeed they have been according to their story. He sold up a big house in London, gave a heap of dosh away, and they moved first to a campervan then to a house on a Sheffield estate called the Wyburn. They’re just hanging out with the local waifs and strays.

    It’s been a contrast being in Dallas this week! I allowed myself two book purchases at Dallas Theological Seminary bookshop. One of them, “Making Room – recovering hospitality as a Christian Tradition” by Christine Pohl is going to be an interesting and challenging read. And more interesting and challenging to implement back in Swan View!

  5. Hey,

    Very encouraging as usual, even in moments of frustration at it not (seeming) to pay off…

    It reminds me of the paradoxical commandments, written as part of a book called ‘The Silent Revolution…

    People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.

    Love them anyway.

    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

    Be kind anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.

    Succeed anyway.

    The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

    Be good anyway.

    Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.

    Be honest and frank anyway.

    What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

    Build anyway.

    People need help, but may attack you if you try to help them.

    Help them anyway.

    In the final analysis, it is between you and God.

    It was never between you and them anyway.

    The success our failure of our actions do not change the fact that they are manifesting love, though it really is trying to the extreme when kids you wnat nothing more than to help spit at you, break windows on your buildings and sabotage every attempt you make to help them. Sometimes you break through 4 or 6 months or a year later, and some times you don’t….but I don’t doubt that sowing seeds is a good analogy; and not in a cheesy ‘hope that they might get “saved” way either….

    But I do believe that the smallest acts of love and compassion have the potential to make life affecting change in people, even if they are unable to express it at the time; in fact we may never see it; but that doesn’t change the impartial fact that it was done in love and compassion, and any act done in that spirit will continue to bring down walls and barrier brick by brick, piece by piece…but that’s undoubtedly the hardest thing to practice consistently….but whatever you do, keep doing it.

  6. Simon, Steve, John, Tom and Alex,

    Thanks. For your encouragement, honesty, integrity, journeys and prayers.

    John my brother I don’t think you angry. I think you’re one big adorable, Will-Farrell-look-like, giant teddy bear of a cage wrestler with an inner hippy that needs to be set free. (you might be angry now) 🙂

    Alex, I think the resurrection is the invitation to fail like there’s no tomorrow (or maybe, fail like tomorrow has broken into today 🙂 That’s where the joy that john was talking about comes from, ‘Tomorrow’, today. 🙂 From ‘failing like Jesus’ and being surprised but the Father’s gift of life given back to us transformed.

    Steve look forward to having you round the corner 🙂

    Tom, it was great harvesting the potatoes with you! The silent revolution is happening in the garden!

    Thanks guys.

    Grace and peace.

  7. Yes, I am still reading!

    I will readily admit that I am MUCH less educated about God and Godliness than you guys. However, I know my God lives inside me, and directs me to encourage empowerment, which is what I attempt to do. It is my compass and allows me to maintain my integrity. With integrity I know I am connected to my Godliness, which leads me to empower… Full circle.

    The work ‘you and yours’ do is powerful. You are all an inspiration.

  8. G’day Jarrod,

    I don’t pretend to know how to do this stuff, but I recall some words of Marshall Rosenberg, ‘originator’ of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), who said don’t do anything unless you can do it with the joy of a child feeding ducks! The key to finding this joy is connecting with people’s feelings and needs.

    But, Jarrod, you know enough of NVC for me not to have to tell you that!

    Another thing Rosenberg says is, never hear a no as a no; hear the need behind the no.

    What’s this got to do with the question of what does doing God’s will or being in missional solidarity look like? Well, what I heard in your blog was some of the emotion you and your crew experience when they endeavourr to be with the poor and get ripped off or just disappointed. NVC is the best thing I know of for dealing with those emotions and can help do two things – 1st, look after yourselves by helping you name your feelings, identify your needs and values, and do something to meet them so that you don’t get burnt out doing whatever you’re doing. (it might even help you identify what to do in the first place.) 2nd, it could help you connect more deeply with others you’re trying to help so that you can really respond to their needs more accurately and thus avoid disappointment.

    And if you can’t give without any expectation of return or thanks or some kind of change on their part even years down the track, then don’t do it. It stuffs you up and it’s no good for them either.

    Of course finding the place where this true gift comes from is not easy, but that’s why we have a spirituality to nurture it within us and a God who exemplifies it without limits.



  9. Hello good brother! thank God for you – this post is just the challenge & reflection I needed to hear. Loving your view from the edge, and the tussling with the questions. And praying for you and the crew… day in day out, ‘kay?

    all good,


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