Christianity 201

February 22, 2012

Living the Red Letters

For the past few nights our family has been working its way through The Red Letters a 6-part DVD series produced by World Vision Canada, in preparation for my reviewing it at Thinking Out Loud. The video features outspoken author and speaker Tony Campolo being interviewed by Colin McCartney, director of Urban Promise in Toronto, and author of Red Letter Revolution. If you know Tony, and you noted the title of Colin’s book, the combination of Campolo and McCartney on the subject of Jesus’ teachings is going to produce a thought-provoking video curriculum.

But last night I decided to venture into some of the recommended websites and discovered Colin McCartney’s blog at RedLetterInfo.com including this post from a few days ago:

Last night I had the privilege to worship with a group of young believers at a house church in Anaheim, California. It was a refreshing time for me being with these vibrant Christians and hearing them share about their journey with Jesus all within such a caring environment. The majority of the believers in this simple house church are from total unchurched backgrounds so to worship with them was a real treat. I was especially impressed by the fact that every one of them worshipped and shared from their hearts. The honesty and intimacy present within the living room of this house church was contagious. Grace permeated throughout the room and it was obvious to me that this was a safe place to come and meet Jesus no matter who you are or what you have done.

 Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name there I will be among you.”  (Matthew 18:20) Jesus was among us in that house last night. That’s one of the things I like the best about Jesus – he loves to be with his people and especially those who hurt. He does not restrict himself  to the mantras of professional clergy nor does he limit himself to only making appearances in sacred church buildings.  He is not into religious posturing or rituals. No, he is present in the simplicity of the poor (“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40) and the gathering of two or three or more of us meeting together in a living room of a house in Anaheim, California.

 While we worshipped there was no “proper” worship protocol that is present in so many of our church services today. There was no evident “order of service”, no special musical arrangements with guest singers and there was no passing of the gold coloured offering plates for our tithes and offerings (though we did pass a baseball cap around that was a little sweaty and dirty as it came from the head of one of the folks attending the house church). Needless to say what happened last night was raw, rootsy and real. People shared how their week had went and I was amazed how many of these people talked about the times they shared their faith and cared for others especially the poor. People spoke about loved ones who were now homeless. Youth asked for prayer for their freinds who are cutting themselves with razors. Best of all were the groanings that rose from the mouths of everyone in that room when they prayed for God’s intercession in their lives and in the lives of those they know.  When it came time for me to share the Word I had a captive audience hungry, willing and thirsting to learn from the Scriptures. Now that is a church!

 I loved last night because this is what I always dream and pray about – to see a movement of Christians in love with Jesus, embodying his “red letters” in word and deed, just simply living out their faith. This sounds like the New Testament church to me and it is to this form of missional movement that I have committed myself to.  I seek to work with churches who are committed to activate their people to this kind of “red letter” missional lifestyle where they challenge their people to “go”!  I also dream of church plants being birthed naturally and organically in homes, community centers, prisons, bars and wherever else “Red Letter” Christians do mission. It’s that simple yet it is so rare!  All it takes for this to happen is for us to go! So, what is holding us back? 

Since Colin ended with a question, here again is the link where you can post your response.