In the past few weeks images of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, alongside the pictures of desperate Syrians jumping off flimsy rubber boats, or worse, their children’s corpses washing up on the beach, have rendered me fairly mute. Are there words eloquent enough to express the heart wrenching emotion of these events? Is there any wisdom to offer making sense of this global chaos? What is an appropriate response to madness?
Then there’s The Donald and others waving Bibles while spouting rhetoric filled with fear, anger and vengeance representing the face of American Christianity. As a follower of Christ myself, I want to tell the world, those people do not represent me.
But where is there somebody offering a Christian message as I understand it? Where’s the Jesus guy who stands with the poor, the whores, and the sick? Where’s the teacher who forgives 70 times 70 and turns back a killing mob by suggesting “he without sin cast the first stone?”
What happened to Matthew 25:34-40?
‘Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ and the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it one to of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
I recently took my daughter’s suggestion and listened to #47 of the RobCast—Rob Bell‘s interview with British evangelical leader, Steve Chalke. While famous in England, he was unknown to me. Chalke was born in South London, a poverty-entrenched area. His accent reveals his roots, a “bloke” of the common class. Of unremarkable parentage, society didn’t expect much from him. At age 14 he was attending a Baptist youth group, mainly to be close to a pretty girl he fancied. Though she rejected him, he discovered the Christian message and relationship with spirit that set his thinking apart from those around him.
One night on a walk home after church, he received a vision of himself. He would open schools, hostels, and run hospitals. He would work with the disenfranchised, the abused, neglected. Society’s rejects.
In other words, he would represent Christ on earth in very practical ways. When he was 24, he and his wife, Cornelia, founded their first hostel for abused teens and named it The Oasis. That was the beginning. Bringing his vision to fruition, he took over management of violent, failing schools and dilapidated churches and shepherded them into places of vitality, kindness, and success.
Much like Father Greg Boyle and Homeboy Industries is transforming the gang culture of Los Angeles, Chalke is working from the inside out of a rotting British society to restore and renew people through the simple message of love and compassionate action that Christ taught.
They may not be the loudest voices in the din, these workers of the Light. They aren’t followed around by media hounds trying to get the next sound bite. Like Mother Teresa, like Salvation Army Founders William and Catherine Booth, and countless other ministries across the globe, the followers of Christ are feeding the poor, helping the widows, and sharing the good news of God’s love. It’s that simple and easily overlooked in the noise and chaos of politics and anger.
I hope that in the next elections I have the opportunity to vote for someone who lives by the standard ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it one to of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Even if I don’t, I’ll keep supporting the people who live by that philosophy because it’s clear to me that is the true path to peace on earth.
It was the way Christ fought the terrorists of his time and still the best model for us today. The Light still overcomes the Dark.
Listen Here: Steve Chalke and the Oasis Story
For more information visit: