Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion. — Lucy
Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King; I tell you. — Beaver
— C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
As I have prayed for our trip to Urban Hope next week, I have spent some time studying Shane Claiborne. Shane has a unique understanding of the love of Christ. As he claims himself, he has no special abilities or talents; he is just a broken human who is embarking on the lifelong process of learning how to love as Christ loves.
Until recently, I had not been properly educated as to the vast problem of poverty in our world. Pastor Mann, of All Nations Bible Fellowship, challenges us frequently on our stinginess. Why do I commit so much time to preparing for my financial future when I have brothers and sisters around me who are starving and naked? Will God not provide for my every need? One of Shane’s favorite quotes is from Gandhi, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” As a lover of Christ, I sure do not want to become a pursuer of the latter.
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
— Luke 14:12–14
Why have I been raised in the Church, indoctrinated with what I perceived to be the teachings and actions of Christ, and never once have personally thrown, or been invited to, or even heard of a party that even remotely aligned itself with this passage? Did God write this in His love letter to humanity for us not to apply? James 1 argues the contrary.
Jesus was homeless. Jesus loved the homeless. I want to love the homeless. Shane’s mother told him, “I used to pray that you would be safe, but now I know that God does not call us to safety, but He promises that He’ll be with us when we go into the danger, and there is no safer place to be than in the Hand of God.” I am developing a greater fear of the numbness and complacency towards the Gospel that I so often see in the suburbs than the crime-laden, Christ-lacking, hungry sectors of the city. Urban Hope, my team’s destination next week, has one of the highest crime rates and poverty rates in the U.S. We have experienced a shooting right in front of the church both of the last two years I have visited. I am confident, however, that we are just as “safe” as we would be in a car driving to a Florida beach, if not more, as we will be in the hands of a sovereign God.
Over half of the earth’s population lives in the city, and this number will not stop rising anytime soon. I sure hope I am wrong, but I have a pretty strong inclination that the urban to suburban ratio among Christians does not even come close to that figure. Insulation is separating us from one another. I am fully confident that the problem is not even that Christians do not have compassion and generosity towards the poor, I have great faith in the intention of our hearts, but it is rather that we never even meet them! Shane believes that if more people stepped out into the streets, sought out people rather than things and entertainment, the love of Christ would be made a dominant player in our world. God is leading me on a journey. I do not know where He is taking me any more than when He called Abraham to his, but I only plan to pack one thing — the deep Love of Christ.