In celebration of The Irresistible Revolution’s 10th birthday, we recently asked readers and Ordinary Radicals all over the world to submit stories of their revolutions. We were overwhelmed with the response and are happy to feature the below stories. These folks followed Jesus down unexpected paths and found revolution in ordinary and extraordinary ways. We hope you are encouraged and “spurred on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24)
The Irresistible Revolution was published when I was twelve years old. I first read the book as a junior in high school. The impact that a radical Jesus had on my college decisions was life altering. I was confronted by the discomfort that Jesus was asking of me. Would Jesus have chosen a comfortable conservative Christian college? Before the revolution grabbed me, I was a poor Christian living on the richness of the world. I am now finding my own Calcutta every day, as a social work student. My favorite part of the book was the quote, “And I think that’s what our world is desperately in need oflovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about.” This is the commitment I make every day as a social worker and follower of Christ. The most amazing part of this commitment is that it is the first time I have truly found Jesus. In all of the injustice and poverty of the world, Jesus still shows up and cares for the least of these. Thank you, Shane Claiborne for writing this beautiful narrative of revolutionary faith. Every time I reread The Irresistible Revolution, it is a reminder that I am not alone in my search for my savior and an end to injustice.
My faith in Christianity and Church had left by the time I was sixteen. For years, I thought about the world and how messed up it was. I was reading articles about the history of different countries and how messed up our ancestors were…and it ground me down. And the Church? We’d sat around eating cake and clapping to ballads! Madness. My heart grew more cold, bored and dull. Enter the Irresistible Revolution. It’s one of those moments of shock where a book written by someone you’ve never met starts to speak to something really deep inside of you. I had always dreamt, deep down, that this Jesus character I had read about really was alive, working, and worthy of giving up my boring ideas for. Well, it seemed that a bunch of crazy guys in the U.S. had rediscovered the real meaning of what Jesus had said all those years ago. It was like they were living it out, and it just hit me. It really hit me hard. It was like hope resurfaced, and my heart started to warm up, and I was absolutely inspired. It set me on the road back to towards rediscovering Jesus. I ended up falling in love with him. Following him so far has led me to move into an intentional community house in my home city, with two other friends whose lives had been impacted by the Irresistible Revolution, too. We’re still at the start of the journey but I’m hoping to make a difference to homeless young people in Bristol, UK. My journey hasn’t looked like Shane Claiborne’s in a lot of ways but I’m on an adventure with Jesus to some broken places, and I’ll always be grateful to Shane’s story for helping me to join that adventure…well, revolution.
I first read The Irresistible Revolution three years after it came out, as a junior at a small, private university in North Carolina. The world saw me as a United Methodist, raised Pentecostal, attending and worshiping at a Baptist institution–losing faith. When I began taking a “Social Ministry” class, I read The Irresistible Revolution. The weight of my love for Jesus and desire to live out my bruised faith had built pressure behind the dam of my frustrations. Simply reading the witness of Shane and The Simple Way broke down that dam. Floods of obedience flowed. Having simply heard of the Incarnation, I moved to experience it. The next summer, I lived in the nearby town of Aulander–its crime rate was 150% over the national average. In a small, missional community, I worked for a full summer without salary. I lived on charity and canned food from a soup kitchen. Though I suffered some, it didn’t seem like that; I lived on Jesus’ presence. Now I am part of the institutional church, working full time and with a pension. Yet my heart is restless and unsettled by the reality of my neighbors that Shane and others have taught me to never ignore. Meeting refugee children of Hispanic families who fled cartel violence fills me up as fast as seeing racism against them drains me. Being at Moral Mondays and seeking prophetic company is teaching me that it is more important to be with and struggle for justice than to listen to degrading voices. Thank you, Shane, for doing things like hanging a picture of George W. Bush in your room, by your bed, to remind you that he is just a person–not savior or hellspawn. Your example teaches us to learn simplicity, to see people, and to seek Jesus always.
Morehead City, NC
I had imagined that the journey that followed my reading of The Irresistible Revolution would be considerably more glamorous than it turned out to be. We so deeply wanted our lives to look like the vision Shane talks about; Living radically and subverting values placed on us by Western culture for the sake of the gospel; calling ‘service users’ ‘family.’ We wanted to write on forms that our vocations were ‘lovers’. We wanted to house the homeless and to protest against injustice. And we wanted to put our lives on the line for it. So we moved into a house full of passion, bunkbeds, prayer, and invitation. What resulted was a little bit of a shock. It didn’t exactly look like it was supposed to. Shane’s version seemed a lot more seamless than ours. Where was the bit in The Irresistible Revolution where you sustain daily bruises because the first thing you have to do in your drowsy, just woken, state is climb down a bunkbed ladder? Where was the bit where I had to work from home in order to feed chopped up slugs to a featherless magpie that a chaotic guest had adopted? What about when your individual becomes lost inside the whole? Where was the bit when no one does the bloody washing up after the ‘outrageous hospitality’ so you end up spending hours over the sink when, EXCUSE ME? I thought I was supposed to be saving the world? What resulted was a journey of finding the chaos in myself just as much as in the other. And finding such beauty in the chaos and the mess that the more our lives were turned upside down, the more I glimpse the incarnation of Christ threaded through the daily life of our community.
I was a freshman in college when I was first handed a copy of Shane’s Irresistible Revolution. I had only been a Christian for a few weeks and was recovering from years of drug abuse and broken relationships. Shane’s book and the stories it contained transformed my view of the world and gave me a welcome glimpse into the kingdom of God. It inspired me to take the teachings of Jesus seriously and ask tough questions regarding a culture of consumerism. I began to simplify my life and seek opportunities to serve others. Over the years in college, dorm life brought isolation from a life on the fringes of society as a drug addict. I was thankful in one respect, but felt the Spirit leading me to a different way of life as I prepared to head to Texas in pursuit of my M.Div. at Baylor’s Truett Seminary. Quick version; I bought a van, gutted the inside and turned it into a ‘microhome.’ I drove a thousand miles to Texas in August. The heat in my van was overwhelming at night, so I slept on the street until November and met all kinds of folks struggling on the street. The following years on the street were transformational, painful, inspiring, discouraging and every other kind of emotion. It was around midnight, when an abandoned semitrailer went up in flames as a fire of a friend of mine tipped over. She lost everything trying to stay warm and it broke my heart. I worried all morning at class about what I could do. I came back to our ‘tent city’ (fifteen or so of us shared), and others on the street had come together to buy her clothes, blankets and a tent. My life was changed and it all started with a few words about Jesus from Shane.