Chapter 4 of Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution is titled “When Comfort Becomes Uncomfortable”. It outlines a lot of his time working at Willow Creek Community Church and living in the suburbs of Chicago. He finished some of his education at Wheaton and also worked with Axis, which used to be the name for the 20s group at Willow. During his time at Wheaton he established a relationship with Rich Mullins, who was on a one year sabbatical in order to write a musical inspired by the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
During an all campus chapel meeting Rich spoke and I was really struck by what he said that got him basically banned from speaking at Wheaton again. “You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me that I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too…But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”
His time at Willow was right after his time in India and Shane spent a lot of time working through how there could be such a divide between the wealthy church that is Willow and the lepers in Calcutta. Tony Campolo (Shane’s adviser while he went to Eastern College) says, “Jesus never says to the poor, ‘Come find the church,’ but he says to those of us in the church, ‘Go into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, imprisoned,’ Jesus in his disguises.”
Shane ends the chapter by saying, “We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.”
This was a heavy, convicting, and hard to read chapter. That is a good thing. At least it was a good thing for me. I don’t have answers to the questions that statements like these make. Well I could give answers but they aren’t very good.
How do we respond to this?