How does Jesus’ words quoted in scripture guide you toward love and justice? This month, our We Conspire articles explore how scripture written thousands of years ago can inform a loving faith in our modern world. In this entry, Shane Claiborne, cofounder of Red Letter Christians, asks: “What would our lives look like if we were driven by love?” Shane writes:
We are invited to broaden God’s kingdom by filling the world with the currency of love. Wherever there are people loving one another, God is visible in the world. The whole law can be summed up in one word: Love. Love always seeks the flourishing of every person and every creature.
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).”
So, what does love require of us?
“The red letters in scripture, the ones where the words of Jesus are printed in red is where the movement of Red Letter Christians was birthed. We are people who aspire to live as if Jesus meant the things he said.” —Shane Claiborne
The red letters in scripture, the ones where the words of Jesus are printed in red is where the movement of Red Letter Christians was birthed. We are people who aspire to live as if Jesus meant the things he said. Jesus entered a world full of violence and exposes, absorbs and subverts it at every turn.
I am convinced we are at a critical moment in history both in our country and in the world. Our country is fragile and fractured as are countries in so many other parts of the world. I’m not a doomsayer, I am a relentlessly hopeful person, but we need to prepare ourselves. We need to train ourselves in love and ground ourselves in nonviolence. In the days to come we are going to need people who know how to be peacemakers, because that’s what it will take to choose love instead of the fear swirling around us.
So what does love require of us?
It means taking action. It means taking in teenage mothers and walking alongside families in poverty. It means creating support groups for people who have chosen to have an abortion. It means welcoming refugees and getting in the way of militarism and war. It means getting involved in the lives of folks facing execution and standing against killing, both legal and illegal. Mother Tereasa didn’t shame or condemn people, instead she provided for young people with such love that they called her mother.
Love is contagious. It’s how we preach with our lives.
In our modern world, much of our Christian faith has been driven by fear instead of love. The invitation from scripture is this — what would our lives look like if we were driven by love?
The invitation is to take the scripture and let love shape our policies—immigration, guns, abortion, the death penalty, poverty, healthcare, racial justice, and every other issue. Christians have a leading role to play in making that vision of love into a felt reality. That’s why public protests are important. It’s how we put love on display in the streets and we prophesy to the world that Jesus’s red letters point us towards. We bring the pain of the marginalized and suffering to those who have the power to change things.
“In our modern world, much of our Christian faith has been driven by fear instead of love. The invitation from scripture is this — what would our lives look like if we were driven by love?”
As we consider what love might require of us, I want to share a few snapshots of what it looks like to be a prophetic conscience. To put a face on the issue, I joined a prayer vigil at the capitol where every speaker was accompanied by a DREAMer, a young immigrant who shared their story. We collected the dreams of over 1,000 immigrant families and presented them to Congress.
We carried a white rose and red rose to remember murder victims and the victims of executions, while we gathered on the supreme court steps to ask for an end to the death penalty.
These are snapshots of protestifying — exposing injustice, amplifying the people impacted, and casting an alternative vision for the future. They are meant not to prescribe but to provoke, not to tell you what to do but to motivate you to fulfill the law of love.
What does love require of us? To act justly, and to love with mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
Reflect with Us
When has your faith been driven by fear? When were you driven by love? How did those experiences impact your spiritual journey? Share your reflection with us.
Shane Claiborne is a best-selling author and activist, who writes and speaks about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus, and is the author of several books including Jesus for President, Executing Grace, Beating Guns, and Rethinking Life. You can learn more about Red Letter Christians on Instagram and Facebook, and follow Shane on Instagram.
We Conspire is a series from the Center for Action and Contemplation featuring wisdom and stories from the growing Christian contemplative movement. Sign up for the monthly email series and receive a free invitation to practice each month.