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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Last year I read a book called “The Irresistible Revolution” by a guy called Shaine Claiborne.  Claiborne’s book is a clarion call for revolution amongst Christians in the West. The call is for them to look at Jesus’ teachings and the lives of the early Christian church and to respond by living lives of radical love and community, pursing a lifestyle that is markedly different to the individualistic, materialistic, secular society they live in. What does that mean exactly? Well Claiborne has purposively moved into a deprived area of Philadelphia and has started a community there – Christians who live together and share everything they have with each other – and who seek to positively impact the community around them.

I must confess I found it hard to put the book down. Although it could be fairly easy to argue that Claiborne comes across as a bit of a tree hugging hippy, amongst the hippy trip he does have some really good points that it’s difficult to hide from. Being a Christian involves allowing yourself to be transformed by God, to be re-wired so that you live your life orientated towards worshipping him.  It also means being part of his family, the Church, which as Claiborne succinctly points out, is so much more than a group of people you sing songs with on a Sunday and possibly study the Bible with mid-week if you go to house-group. Claiborne believes that the church as Jesus envisioned it and as the early Christians showed was actually a radical movement which made ripples in the places they lived, with the starting point being the way they cared for each other and those around them.

I was listening to a talk recently where the speaker said that in this world we all worship something. We’re all converts to something – knowingly or unknowingly. Maybe to a religion, or some form of philosophy, or maybe just the predominant cultural worldview that we’ve grown up with. In the West that worldview tends to be secular and as he put it “expressively individual.” In some ways, the kind of radical Christianity that Claiborne is espousing is very countercultural as although the Bible says that we’ve all been given personal choice and created as unique individuals…if someone is consumed by love for Jesus it starts to seep out of them in the way that they love his body, the Church, and the way that they love people around them. Hence the birth of true Christian community.

Given all this and the excitement I got about the possibilities surrounding the Irresistible Revolution…I got pretty excited when a friend of mine told me he was starting a meals  co-operative and wondered whether I’d like to join.

 The Co-operative meals (we still need to find a decent name – suggestions please!) is a group of Christians from across South Birmingham who share meals together. Simple premise really – we put £24 each into the Co-Operative once a month and use the money to cook meals for each other. The contributions cover the cost of ingredients (we paid £30 in the first month and bought utensils and saucepans etc) and we share cooking responsibilities between us throughout the month. Meals are cooked on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at a host house. Members can either eat in, pick up a box of cooked food to eat later, or have their box stored in the freezer for collection another day. We all chip in with the washing up and cleaning and have people who are responsible for shopping and book keeping.

Of course there have been teething problems. Some of us have never eaten as many vegetables in our lives…others of us are feeling like they’re turned into a raging carnivore overnight! Not everybody has the same taste…and not everybody can eat in all of the time or stay to wash up every night. It will take time to get to a happy medium…but so far we’re trying to live co-operatively – to serve each other when we’re under pressure at work and just need to come in, collapse on the sofa and have a good meal. It’s a simple idea – having a meal with a group of friends a few times a week. But it when you look below the surface it goes deeper than that. It means learning to accommodate other people’s tastes, quirks and differences. It means being vigilant about having an attitude of love and service and being careful not to take for granted the love and service that is given to you. It means being able to share your day – the challenges and the happy moments – with somebody when you get home. And it means being challenged to share your life a little bit more – to learn to compromise…and (cue major cheese ball/cliché moment) ..co-operate.

And most importantly it’s a step in the right direction. Right now we are one small group sharing our meals. But it doesn’t have to stop there. We hope we will be the first group of many. And that co-operatives such as this won’t just be about sharing meals…we can take the love and service beyond sharing meals with each other and extend it to the community around us in the places where we live.

There’s a passage in the Bible in the book of Isaiah where Isaiah is in the temple and God appears to him – Isaiah’s world is shaken and he isn’t the same after that experience of God’s glory.  I’ve been challenged recently – am I willing for my world to be shaken? I have a nice idea of what I would like for myself and my life – but it doesn’t involve having my world turned upside down or being involved in trying to turn the world upside down for God. But if I’m really serious about letting God take the reins and having Jesus as the object of my affection then I need to be prepared for that. I need to allow God to break down my ivory towers and shake things up. This co-operative is a small, simple gesture…but maybe it’s the start of something irresistible.

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