Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Third Way of Jesus

Over the past few years the writer, activist, and founder of The Simple Way, Shane Claiborne, has meant a lot to me and has taught me so much. His first book, "The Irresistible Revolution," has really altered the way I look at the world and I am thoroughly enjoying reading his second book, "Jesus for President." In fact, I even get to speak on that theme at the church camp I am speaking at in a few weeks.

One thing I have been learning about from this newest read is what Claiborne calls 'the third way of Jesus.' Claiborne argues that throughout the gospels Jesus continually offers a 3rd way of approaching situations, a creative and imaginative solution that no one predicted and that catches others off-guard. For example, when an adulterous woman is brought before Jesus, he neither sides with the Jews or the woman, as would be expected, but instead chooses to write in the sand and offer an entirely different solution to the problem. Or when Peter erratically slices a soldier's ear off in Gethsemane, Jesus goes "Grey's Anatomy" on him and reattaches it. "Jesus' theological stunts and prophetic imagination surprise and alarm" (262)

I desperately desire to be a man of the Third Way. I want to dream of doing life differently. I want to imagine a world where forgiveness and patience with others totally transforms lives. Claiborne speaks of the Amish as a practical example of a third way of living. In the wake of the shooting of 5 Amish children in 2006, the colony "responded in four ways that captured the world's attention. First, some of the elders visited Marie Roberts, the wife of the murderer, to offer forgiveness. Then, the families of the slain girls invited the widow to their own children's funeral. Next, they requested that all relief money intended for the Amish families be shared with Ms. Roberts and her children. And finally, in an astonishing act of reconciliation, dozens of Amish families attended the funeral of the killer" (275).

What would my life look like if I had the creativity to respond in this manner? What would my life look like if I forgave as Christ has forgiven me? Mandy and I recently had a huge blow-up with the local dealership that sold us our car and I deeply regret the way I treated their workers. For me, the situation was black and white, my way or else, but I failed to see an alternate way of handling the situation. Pray for me as I repent of my mistakes and sort through what a life of discipleship should truly look like. What does it look like to lay down the sword of redemptive violence and pick up the cross of Calvary?

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