Gandhi once said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." and later said "Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ. If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today." A Barna study found the three most common associations with the Christian faith by non-Christians are anti-gay (91%,) judgmental (87%), and hypocritical (85%). This should not be! Jesus said we should be known by our love and that our love will draw people to Him. The sermon on the mount and the teachings of Jesus are so far from this type of Christianity.
I was reminded of this today by a friend, Kevin Knight, who lives in the slums of Cambodia, when he posted this quote on Facebook by Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "The renewal of the Church will come from a new type of Monasticism, which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time people banded together to do this."
Thank you for the reminder Kevin, it is indeed high time and we so desperately need this kind of renewal. I too have come to believe that the sermon on the mount and the words of Christ are central to how I interpret the bible and provides a call to a Christianity that is so needed by the world and yet is so dearly missing. When we read the bible through Jesus, it leads us to the margins of society, to fight for justice in our world and live out a radical counter-culture Christianity.
May many be found in the place of blessing described in the sermon on the mount today... Be blessed
On Wednesday 5 June 2014, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police continued to take blankets from the homeless in Hilbrow. No explanation or valid and rational reason could exist authorising the Metro Police to confiscate these blankets. Most of these blankets were donated to the homeless by NGOs and Churches. These were donated precisely because of the looming cold winter. Today marks one of the coldest day in Johannesburg and the homeless are left out in the cold without anything., simply because of the Metro Police’s unlawful actions.
We think it is inhumane, degrading, unethical, illegal, unconstitutional and a violation of several rights for the City of Johannesburg to take blankets, clothing and other possessions away from the homeless in Hillbrow, especially at a time when we are about to have a cold front. The City of Johannesburg, as a member of the state has a constitutional responsibility to respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights. We call on the city to cease this action immediately and to furthermore take action to ensure adequate housing and shelter is provided to all the homeless in our city. As an immediate, interim measure, we call on the City to put the wrong to right by getting the Metro Police to distribute warm, new blankets to all the homeless in the city. #GiveBackOurBlankets
Here is how you can help...
Print out a petition and send it to the City. Here is a link to a Petition Form...
Download the Petition (Instructions - click on link and it will open in a new window - you can also then download it to your harddrive)
Share this story on social media and using the hashtag #givebackourblankets for this campaign. Here is a video you can share about the incident...
Thank you for your support
A friend posted a blog about how his day was "interrupted" when he was sitting in a coffee shop and he tried to help a stranger who had his laptop stolen by offering him a lift. He reflected how there are opportunities all around us for our lives to be "interrupted" and there are opportunities for us to "get involved". Don't get me wrong, this guy is a radical christian who is often found among the poor, has lived in very broken communities and I would certainly regard him as a radical Christian, but it got me wondering about my own life before and after moving to Hillbrow... where I am now in the midst of extreme poverty and need all around me (all the time)... there are now literally 10s of thousands of people with stolen laptops all around me (well not literally stolen laptops), but you know what I mean... actually their "stolen laptops" are real life and death crises... like malnutrition or no food, heroine addictions, exclusions from schooling, poor water and sanitation, evictions, horrific housing conditions, exploitative labor conditions, rats eating children while they are sleeping (actually got an sms from a friend two weeks ago about this) and much, much more... actually a stolen laptop, while a HUGE irritation, is not that bad when I think of the scale of human suffering around me... and this got me thinking more... about the church, where it is at and about how the church is "looking for something to do", and people are wondering "is there someone, somewhere that I can help" or "oh, maybe one day God will place someone in my path" Is this the Christianity we find in the bible??? There really is something very wrong with this picture in a world with so much human suffering... why is the church not here in Hillbrow and places like it instead of hanging out in places where it is very unlikely to be confronted with real life and death human needs? In my heart I understand - I was there... I still often am - hanging out in safe places far from hurt. I know that I long for something more! I dream of another kind of church... one that is not afraid of going to "dangerous", or "needy" places on the margins... where what is required of us is more that "to be a little inconvenienced", but rather to share generously and abundantly of our possessions, time, talents, friendships, influence, perhaps even our lives... where our prayers will be filled with passion and desperation and lament and longing for God to intervene and bring justice...
And this got me thinking of how much of the modern church reads Luke 4:18-19...
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me...
To gently, though friendships that are non-judgmental and uplifting, over a cup of specialty coffee, share the story about how they are forgiven and now a have a secure future in the clouds, and they never have to do anything else with their lives of that is of significance - except share this message with their friends in the middle class;
He has sent Me to heal those who had a rough day at work;
To proclaim liberty to those struggling with negative words that were spoken to them this week;
And recovery of sight to those who don't see the how nice and special they really are,
To set at liberty those who are struggling with low self esteem;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (as long as I am not too inconvenienced by all this)!
What happened to the literal "poor", "brokenhearted", "blind" and those actually "oppressed"... uuuuuuggggg!!!! What has happened to the gospel? There has to be more!
Maybe it is time Jesus came into our separated lives, spilled our specialty coffee, turned the tables to chase us out to where we are really needed!