taking the words of Jesus seriously

“Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.”

These are the words of my friend, brother, and former student, Shane Claiborne. In his letter to those who may be peeking in the window of the church or have left the church altogether, Shane begins with an apology.

And his apology should be our apology. An apology to those who have been affected negatively by the church’s inability to teach, and more importantly, model themselves after the teachings and life of Jesus.

As Shane points out, there are many ways the church today, especially in America, has distorted the message of the crucified Christ. From bull horns to forgetting our necessary commitment to the poor and down trodden as written in red in Matthew 25: 34-45, the church today has separated itself from the Gospel, causing Christians to look quite different from the Jesus we claim to follow.

I encourage you to read Shane’s letter. And to read it slowly. Write down what stands out and discern through prayer how you can work to help realign the church.

Shane Claiborne co-founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia and together that web of subversive friends are living out the red letters in their neighborhoods and around the world.

About The Author


Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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