May 6, 2008

Saints or Communists?

It is a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer just missions projects but become genuine friends and family with whom we laugh, cry, dream, and struggle. One of the verses I have grown to love is the one where Jesus is preparing to leave the disciples and says, "I no longer call you servants... Instead, I have called you friends" (John 15:15)." Servanthood is a fine place to begin, but gradually we move toward mutual love, genuine relationships. Someday, perhaps we can even say those words that Ruth said to Naomi after years of partnership: 

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there be buried" (Ruth 1:16-17).

And that's when things get messy. When people begin moving beyond charity and toward justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity.  In the words of the late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: 

"When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist." 

Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get crucified for charity. People are crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping poor people. People are crucified for joining them.

{much of this post was borrowed from Shane Claiborne's book The Irresistible Revolution which I HIGHLY recommend by the way...oh & I love & miss you all}


diane byrnes photography said...

amen, steve. i'll go where you go, here's to joining our new "family".

Jon said...

"Father, let Your kingdom come and let Your will be done - on earth as it is in heaven!" - it is so encouraging to see this as a motivation; our responsibility to eradicate the hells of this word and, through God's power, transform them into His Kingdom. I pray that God will continue to use you and Diane in powerful ways in His plan of bringing that kingdom and will to this earth! We love you guys and continually pray for you!!!

Mark said...

This is so true. It's easy to give to charity . . . even noble. But to question why people are poor is another thing. Oh God, please let us question all the injustices of this world. Thanks Steven, I am praying for you guys.