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The Prophetic Voice

March 30, 2006


It’s Lent. I live in a Christian community that attempts to live with some level of mutual accountability…confessing our sins one to another, that we may be healed. I sense a need to be real (to confess) as I am being confronted by the Gospel and by prophetic voices living a radical lifestyle of following Jesus.

Our reading from Baptist Roots this week was a selection from the writings of Muriel Lester. I found myself convicted by her radical vision of Christian discipleship and the passion and integrity with which she lived her life. With her words, she may not be as clear as some would like in her confession of Christ. With her actions, her love for and solidarity with the poor, and her life…I find her witness to be very clear–perhaps more clear than some who confess Jesus very clearly with their words (myself included).

As we read the Scriptures, we are clearly called to respond to a Gospel that transforms. A way salvation that is both immaterial and material. A conversion that leads to discipleship. It’s like the Apostle James says–“you say you have faith…show me your works.” (James 2:17)

The Scriptures are clear in this regard. Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

And again in the gospel of Luke–“Great crowds were following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, ‘If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be disciple.” (14:25-27)

People like Tom Fox, Muriel Lester and Shane Claiborne challenge me deeply…unsettle my comfortable Christianity. The witness of their life penetrates my soul…and what I hear is Jesus’ call to follow him. The call to countercultural living that makes visible the Kingdom of God is ever present. Their witness calls me to allow the gospel to go deeper in my life–to continue in the school of conversion. I feel a need to confess to someone that I really don’t see the same costliness in my own following of Christ. Not trying to beat myself up…just trying to be honest as the Gospel speaks to my situation.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” Romans 12:2

Shane is a member of a community called the simple way in Philadelphia. He has written a book entitled, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical.

Sometimes I think there is really only one Christian denomination in America: American Civil Religion—a consumerist, militarist, therapeutic, colonial, nationalist chaplaincy that baptizes and blesses whatever the richest and most powerful nation on the planet wants to do. But then I hear a voice like Shane’s, I know that at least a few follow another leader on a less-traveled road. Read this book and let it make you uncomfortable, as it did me. We need this kind of discomfort more than we know. – Brian McLaren, author, Generous Orthodoxy

“It’s clear that Tom Fox gave a faithful witness. We’re talking here about something that falls under the category of the foolishness of the cross. Tom had that cross foolishness that Corinthians tells us is the power of God.”

Rich Meyer, CPT Palestine project support coordinator

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