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May 20, 2011


jason smith


Saw this on Rachel's blog. Like it. Don't think she quite gets there, in my estimation. I think she is really just scratching the surface. Some of this could just be where I have been for the last few years.

I would say, following Jesus for me (and living vicariously through another's vision) is listening to my life speak and then allowing Jesus to expose the true me to people and situations. What I often realize though, is that to deny myself in those moments is ALWAYS more than I thought I could do. I think when Jesus says, if anyone would sue you and take your shirt, give them your coat too, he is giving us an insight into how much he will ask of us. For me, following Jesus has been a process of stripping me of my stuff, of anything I thought belonged to me. And, I don't mean material goods. My false self always wants to say, "hey, that is mine." "That is my time." "That is my emotional energy." "That is my wisdom." "I earned that...I can't just keep giving it away." "It's not fair."

So, I can say, like Rachel.....well, I can do this, or I can do that. Those things are easy. To be honest. It's really easy to do. And in the face of poverty, doing makes us feel really good about ourselves. But, I've become convinced that the doing is just something to do. It is the door into the real work Christ does, I think. It's the real interaction of soul on soul, Jesus on me, asking me to deny myself, where I hear Jesus say follow me and I get it.

What I have found is that if I really follow Jesus, I meet Jesus. And he doesn't show up in a donation envelope or in a box I fill up to take to the food bank. He shows up in the person that says, "I am about to require you to give me your shirt, your shoes, your coat, your time, your energy, your emotions, your wisdom, and in the end, you will probably get nothing in return." "Are you okay with that?" "Because I (Jesus) was." And...I think that is why Claiborne rings true for people. There is something in us that says, "I have this sinking feeling that Jesus does require me to give everything." He does. It just doesn't always look like monastic community.

And, that has helped me break the cycle of what must I "do" next? What from this book must I emulate? Etc.


Thanks, Jason. Always grateful for your response.
These days it seems nearly each month a couple young 20-somethings will find me and either literally or figuratively they're carrying a copy of "Jesus for President" or another Claiborne read under their arm.

These middle class white folks love the radical nature of Shane's life and the "idea" of revolution. For the most part, I love that. But like you're referring to they seem to struggle most with their own poverty that easily gets hidden and sometimes further burried by their "doing".

I agree with Rohr... Meeting Jesus is an invitation to freedom, wholeness, salvation, but most practically... humiliation. And as you well know, most folks are not okay with a spirituality of vulnerability and humiliation.

Thoughts like Rachel's sometimes frustrate me to some degree because I don't want to let people off the hook when it comes to engaging real poverty in their neighborhoods and cities. I still believe that following Jesus' Way of letting go is achieved through radical presence with the least. If you can sustain your presence long enough to where it's no longer sexy or braggable you recognize how inconvenient and wasteful it feels... You have to let go of progress and often times the desire for the kind of ministry fruit that looks good in a newsletter.

But on a practical level, I'm grateful for her breakdown and honesty.

Peace, man. Love you.

jason smith

For real,

I think I'm coming to the realization more and more that sustained presence should be valued and publicized more and more. It is HARD!

The newsletter worthy results are so attractive, but SO not worth it in the end. And, I'm coming to realize I don't even think Jesus cares much about them. They are a good start!

I'm working with someone right now and he is coming face to face with his tendency towards "doing" and how much his identity is wrapped up in it. And, he is failing to measure up! So, as he fails, he has no sustained identity in Christ. There is no well to go to. He has not done the work with himself, with Jesus, to figure out who he really is at his core and he keeps running back to the "do" to try to fix it. I think he is going to hang in there and let Jesus into his emptiness, but man it is painful to watch. I keep wanting to rescue him, but I know it is the journey we must all go on.

I think Rohr has made me aware that if younger people will engage the process earlier, they can mature and go on the journey sooner. I think sustianed presence will help them get there faster and "doing" can provide a doorway into "being" if they will stick with it and not run to the next "do" opportunity to feed that brokenness inside them.

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Words make Worlds...

  • "It becomes so clear to me as I grow older that people who change, and keep changing, are the only people who grow up." -Richard Rohr
  • “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
  • "Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be." -John Wooden
  • "Receptivity without confrontation leads to a bland neutrality that serves nobody. Confrontation without receptivity leads to an oppressive aggression which hurts everybody." - Henri Nouwen
  • "Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of spirituality begins where we are now in the mess of our lives." -Mike Yaconelli
  • "But that doesn’t mean community is easy. For everything in this world tries to pull us away from community, pushes us to choose ourselves over others, to choose independence over interdependence, to choose great things over small things, to choose going fast alone over going far together." -Shane Claiborne
  • "Nothing that we despise in the other man is entirely absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don’t do, and more in light of what they suffer." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create." Albert Einstein
  • "Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Howard Thurman
  • "A nation that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." -Dr. Martin Luther King
  • "Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful--- Christian community is the final apologetic." -Francis Schaefer
  • "It is not allowable to love the Creation according to the purposes one has for it, any more than it is allowable to love one’s neighbor in order to borrow his tools." Wendell Berry
  • "All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers. Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than the particular country in which he was born." -Francois Fenelon
  • "Ministry cannot be about maintenance, but it is about gathering, about embrace, about welcoming home all sorts of and conditions of people; home is a place for mother tongue, of basic soul food, of old stories told and treasured, of being at ease, known by name, belonging without qualifying for membership." -Walter Brueggemann
  • "Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get round to being the particular poet or particular monk that they are intended to be by God." "In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be." -Thomas Merton
  • "God spoke to Balaam through his ass, and God's been speaking through them ever since. So, if God chooses to speak through you don't think to highly of yourself." -Rich Mullins
  • "We must become holy not because we want to feel holy but because Christ must be able to live his life fully in us." Mother Teresa
  • "I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self." Henri Nouwen


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