Red Letter Christianity – by Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo

22 06 2014

My colleague Wendy recently said, “Most people who go to a Tony Campolo event know that they’re going to get ‘beaten up’ for justice.” and this book wasn’t far off of a punch in the face either – in a good way of course! I’ve heard both of these guys speak before, and always find they challenge my way of thinking and being. The book was no different.

The idea of Red Letter Christians is that they live their words specifically by the words that Jesus said. In some copies of the bible, every word Jesus spoke is printed in red so as to stand out from the black text.

Each chapter of the book took a different topic that Campolo and Claiborne would then discuss between them, sharing thoughts and perspectives. I found some of what they shared truly refreshing; they didn’t just go down the line you might expect them to!

In the chapter on pro-life, I expected this to just be a discussion on abortion, and of course some of it was. But there was also a lot of discussion on the quality of life throughout the whole of a persons life: “from womb to tomb”. They covered poverty, sin, and the death penalty alongside the obvious.

In the chapter on homosexuality, they open by discussing gay marriage, but actually when Tony shared his view on it, it took a whole new direction:

“While I believe that the government should not legalise marriage for people who are gay, I also believe that it should not legalise marriage for heterosexuals either. In fact, the government should get out of the marriage business completely and instead focus on civil rights for all of its citizens. It should treat both homosexual couples and heterosexual couples the same, guaranteeing both the same rights and privileges. Homosexual couples and heterosexual couples should be able to go down to the city hall and register as couples who want to be legally recognised as belonging to each other and receive the same civil rights available for all citizens who want to be in committed relationships. Then, if a couple wants to call the relationship a marriage, that couple should go down to a church and let the church perform the ceremony.” – Tony Campolo

The chapter on giving I found particularly helpful, confirming some stuff I’d been thinking about recently anyway, and looking at some prosperity gospel stuff which seems to keep rearing its head lately too.

Every chapter of this book had something to make you think, from liturgy to the middle east, from reconciliation to national debt, there isn’t a lot they don’t touch on somewhere and just stir some of your thought patterns that maybe had sat still for a bit too long.

Red Letter Christianity

The meaning of Christmas

19 12 2013

A lot of TV programmes are currently sharing their opinions about what Christmas is really about (I guess what they mean is: as opposed to consumerism).

“Christmas is all about thoughtfulness” – Great British Sewing Bee
“For me, Christmas is all about the kitchen” – Great British Bake Off
“It’s about the smell of the turkey cooking and mulled wine” – Great British Bake Off

They’ll also say things like family or giving.

Or even love.

They all seem to have forgotten the main point:

Christmas is about JESUS!!!!!!!!

Love one another – part 2

26 09 2013

As well as following the Love One Another series in our Sunday sermons (yes I know I’m a week behind, apologies!), we’re also looking at these commands in our housegroups. I doubt I’ll blog from them every time, but just wanted to share something that struck me this evening.

So we’re looking at loving one another, and what that looks like, and we read a very well known passage, 1 Corinthians 13 vv 1-7:

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Now I love this, it’s so over used in weddings, but that’s not even the sort of love it’s talking about! This is about God’s love for us, but also how we ought to be loving one another. This is what love looks like.

We were encouraged to put “Jesus” in the place of love, which makes for a beautiful reading. Then we were encouraged to put “I am” in the place of “love is” – now that’s hard to read!

So yea, how do we do that? Then we looked at Galatians 5 vv 22-23:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Check that out! There is SO much overlap there with what love is in the first passage! Patience, Kindness, just compare the two sets of verses! All we need is the Holy Spirit, and we will have those things that allow us to love those that are not so easy to love. How fab is that?