The expression of service: To live as Christ

Shane Claiborne speaks of humility and love.

Shane Claiborne wants to return the church to the image of Christ. Photo credit: Erik Stenbakken

The voice of one crying out — among the homeless.

Author, speaker, sinner, witness and self-proclaimed lover, Shane Claiborne humbled hundreds Friday, Feb.4 during Liberty University’s Ministry Convocation.

“We live in a world where we (Christians) have so much to say with our mouths and so little to say with our lives,” Claiborne said.

Known for his dreadlocks, simple attire and completely “reliant upon God” lifestyle, Claiborne began his speech by giving his credentials.

Claiborne graduated from Eastern University with degrees in both sociology and youth ministry. He also attended Princeton Theological Seminary, but took a leave of absence before completion of his degree.

Claiborne is now working with the Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia. He also works with local homeless ministries and churches in the Philadelphia area.

“Our ministry is inspired by the early church,” Claiborne said. “We are a beautiful mess among industrial wreckage.”

Raised in east Tennessee, Claiborne said he knew from a young age that the world, and church, was broken beyond recognition.

“Growing up in the church and going to church protected me from the Bible,” Claiborne said. “Honestly I am not sure what a lot of the stuff we did had to do with Jesus at all.”

Claiborne said he chose to study sociology and youth ministry because those were the things he wanted to understand the most — the brokenness of the world and the lack of desire being invested into youth.

“My problem is this, we just promise a hurting world that there is life after death, but they aren’t asking about after, they are asking is there life before death? I want to understand their brokenness so they can understand his (Jesus’) healing,” Claiborne said.

Claiborne then recalled his journey to Calcutta where he worked alongside Mother Teresa for a 10-week mission term.

“I finally got a number to call Calcutta from one of the nuns I had contacted,” Claiborne said. “I called and was expecting some sweet administrative assistant or something. Mother Teresa answered, and she told me to come.”

Claiborne said that it was Mother Teresa who taught him what it truly meant to live reliant on God and to serve your neighbor in love.

“I realized that if we can’t hold our possessions with open hands they aren’t our possessions, we are being possessed,” Claiborne said.

Claiborne said he is living to love and to return the church to the image of Christ.

“Jesus isn’t safe, Christianity shouldn’t be safe,” Claiborne said. “In fact, Jesus is anything but safe, but he sure is good.”

Claiborne said he left the audience with an intentionally thought provoking message to inspire them to choose love in every situation.

“Let’s stop saying to the world, ‘Go find the church,’ but say to the church, ‘Go into the world,’” Claiborne said.

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