Wednesday, May 25, 2005
HELLO. MY NAME IS KEITH GILES. I AM A CHRISTIAN ACTIVIST.
Hello. My name is Keith Giles and I am a Christian activist.
In fact, for me, there’s no such thing as any other kind of Christian.
To be a Christian is to be an activist.
In what way could someone call themselves a follower of Jesus and be anything other than someone who brings change in their wake? How else is a person who names the name of Christ to act?
To be a follower of Jesus is to be one who sees things as they are and asks, “How can the Kingdom of God break in and make things better?”
One of my favorite Christian leaders is Mike Pilavachi, the founder of Soul Survivor. He has a saying I love that goes, “God is a god of hate. He’s also a god of love. The one thing God is not is indifferent.”
Want to know what I hate? It’s Christian Radio. I hate how it proclaims a version of Jesus who is constantly “safe”. Was Jesus really safe? Should we be safe?
John Fischer says that, “Faith is only necessary for a more dangerous life” and I couldn’t agree with him more.
Another of my heroes, Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners Magazine and the author of “God’s Politics” says that Christians are called, not only to serve and love the poor, but to go beyond writing checks from the safety of our pews and even beyond slopping soup in the rescue missions, to bring real, lasting deliverance and hope to the poor of the world.
“You can’t keep pulling bodies out of the river,” says Wallis, “Without sending someone up stream to find out who is throwing them into the river.”
One of my other heroes is Jackie Pullinger who gave up her life to serve the poorest of the poor in the walled city of Hong Kong. She says, “The lie is that the way of the cross is the hard way. The lie is that it will kill you. The Truth is, in this way you’ll find life. In this way, you’ll know Him. In this way, you’ll taste of Grace. To come and die for Christ is an invitation, it’s not a sentence.”
I don’t have any tattoos but if I did it would probably read, “Remember the Poor” just like the one that David Ruis wears on his arm. I’d love to have a permanent reminder on my skin that recalled the “One thing” that Peter and James required of the Apostle Paul before he was sent out on his first missionary journey in the book of Galatians. “All that they asked was that we remember the poor,” says Paul, “The one thing I was thrilled to do.”
It would seem that the kind of Christians God is looking for are the ones who are incapable of walking past the poor without doing something. When they see someone hungry, they give them food. When they see someone thirsty, they give them a cold cup of water. When they see someone who is lonely, they stop and spend a few hours with them. “For whatever you’ve done for one of the least of these,” says Jesus, our example and teacher, “You’ve done it unto me.”
My two favorite t-shirts say, “You have one life. Do something.” and “Actions Speak Louder”.
One of my favorite movies is “Fight Club”. One tells the story of a mixed-up young man trapped in this wayward American culture who is desperately searching for meaning and purpose and real, authentic life. He says things like, “What you own ends up owning you” and leading a small army of devoted followers to change the world by blowing it up. I always watch that film and wonder what it would have been like if someone could have told that man about Jesus.
My favorite books of the Bible are James and the first book of John. James I love because he says things like, “Faith without works is dead”, and First John I love because he says things like, “If anyone claims to be in Him, they must walk as Jesus did.”
Jesus was a radical. He raised up a small army of revolutionaries with the sole “raison d’etre” of changing the world and turning it upside down. In their wake, the followers of Jesus left changed governments, changed religious systems, and changed hearts and minds.
If the early church had simply existed, if it had only found a way to blend in with the culture around it and become safe and acceptable to the populace, you and I might not ever have heard of a person by the name of Jesus of Nazareth who, about 2000 years ago, gave his life to change the world, one person at a time.
The church today needs to become more like its founder. It needs to be driven to press forward, out of its comfort zone, to get its hands dirty, to move in such a way that our words line up with our actions.
To do any less is settle.
Who wants to belong to a predictable movement? Who wants to surrender their life for something ordinary and unremarkable?
Many of us are willing, we say, to die for Christ. The question is, are we willing to live for Christ?
Hello. My name is Keith Giles. I am a Christian activist. What other kind of Christian is there?