Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The "Following Jesus" Manifesto

This has been up for a couple of days at Today at the Mission: Daily Life in a Homeless Shelter, which is a must-read for those who think Christianity would be quite a pleasant little way to think if it weren't for (some) Christians. Its writer, who goes by "[rhymes with Kerouac]," sees the Gospel at work as few of us, Christian or not, will--or dare--to.

This is an updated Beatitudes, one with street cred shaped and tempered by the streets and not by tough-guy poses--and certainly not by TBN or 700 Club make-up artists. I hope some of my readers will really hear this.

1. Stop talking about Jesus. Just stop. If we loved the people around us half as much as we say we love Jesus the rest of this manifesto would be entirely redundant.
2. Live a secret life. Invest the time, effort and vulnerability necessary to delve deeply into the scripture and prayer. Spend long periods of time in stillness. There is no shortcut to this, there is no other way. Without a deep and secret life we soon find ourselves talking about Jesus instead of being like Jesus.
3. Stop pretending. I'm a Christian, and I suck. So do you. Let's get that out of the way, shall we?
4. Give more than you get. There will always be more than enough.
5. Be present for those around you. Following Jesus has nothing to do with your work, your resume or your income. In fact, nothing that matters does.
6. Treasure broken-ness. Our broken places are sacred spaces in our heart. Honour them. Value them. In doing so you love the unlovely, publicly declaring the beauty of God's image in everyone. Greet the broken with comfort and cool water.
7. Throw a party.
8. Know Jesus well enough to recognize him on the street. This is rather important, because he can always be found on the street - and he usually looks more like a pan-handler than a preacher.
9. Accept ingratitude and abuse as a fixed cost. Embrace them, and then go the extra mile.
10. If you follow Jesus, you will anger religious people. This is how you will know.

(Sorry to go on so. As a Christian myself, though, I cannot impress upon you enough just how refreshing and exhilarating, in the face of how the Religious Right hath wrought the media image of Christianity--both its own image and how the Church gets reported in mainstream media, reading [rhymes with Kerouac] has been for me. I imagine RWK, James Dobson, Mark Driscoll (sorry, Ariel) and Richard Dawkins meeting in an intellectual dark alley somewhere, the man with the truest image of what the Church is and should be about being the one left standing.)

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Camille said...

hey John,

As someone who is profoundly allergic to most current manifestations of Christianity (especially on the internet), this post makes me very happy. I am glad you mentioned Number Seven, parties should always be a priority.

AjVan said...

This is refreshingly blunt. I suspect that Driscoll would approve. ;)

Ariel said...

That was me, btw. In case you couldn't guess. (Beta hasn't let me switch yet, but it keeps secretly logging me in.)

eleven said...

I couldn't agree more with the points themselves, but I think they may lose something in the sharing... I refer you back to your excellent point the first: stop talking about Jesus.