Red–Letter Christians, Jesus, and a Day of PRIDE

To live in the same kind of exuberant, joyful, welcoming, loving, compassionate way that Jesus modelled.

Rev. Yme Woensdregt

“Red–Letter Christians” (RLC) is a movement of followers of Jesus who live out Jesus’ counter–cultural teachings. Their goal is simple: “To take Jesus seriously by endeavouring to live out his radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.”

They call themselves red–letter Christians because some editions of the Bible have the words of Jesus printed in red. For that reason, they write on their website, “we have committed ourselves first and foremost to doing what Jesus said. Jesus calls us away from the consumerist values that dominate contemporary America. Instead, he calls us to meet the needs of the poor. He also calls us to be merciful, which has strong implications in terms of war and capital punishment. After all, when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, he probably means we shouldn’t kill them.”

Their values include nine statements, including the following three: “All people are made in the likeness and image of God.” “We respect and fight for the well–being of all people as children of God — especially those with whom we differ.” “We embrace and work alongside people of different faiths, erasing the lines of ‘us vs. them.'”

Shane Claiborne is one of the founding members of RLC. He also founded “The Simple Way,” a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in Philadelphia. In an article entitled, “Jesus is for Losers,” Claiborne writes,

“A few months back as I was getting ready to speak to a group of folks, the pastor approached me beforehand to point out that a couple of gay men were sitting on the front row, holding hands. He felt the need to point it out. ‘Are you going to say something about that, about homosexuality?’ he whispered. I laughed, and said, ‘I’m not sure what you have in mind. I could begin by saying I praise God that they felt welcome enough to come into this place, that I am glad they are here.’ That is not what he had in mind.

“I wondered to myself, following his logic, if he would then want me to ask everyone who had been divorced and remarried to stand up so we could give them a little firm rebuke. In fact, maybe we should just station folks at the doors of the church like bouncers in clubs — sort of a sin patrol. They could ask people as they enter the building: ‘Have you been prideful or greedy this week?’ And we could bounce all the nasty sinners out of the service. We’d be left with much smaller crowds to deal with. In fact, I would probably end up preaching to a small handful of proud saints, whom I could point my finger at, call them all liars, and tell them to leave as well. What in the world has become of us?”

Claiborne tells about a video project in which he went out onto the streets of Philadelphia with a video camera, and asked people to respond with the first word that popped into their head. He began with a few words to break the ice … like “snow” or “teenagers”. When people heard the word “Christian”, they stopped in their tracks.

Claiborne writes, “I will never forget their responses: ‘fake,’ ‘hypocrites,’ ‘church,’ ‘boring.’ One guy even said, ‘used–to–be–one’ (sort of one word).”

What a biting indictment of the church. The thing is that we follow Jesus, who was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. He ate with outcasts and sinners, tax collectors and hookers. So why don’t good Christian people have that kind of reputation? Why isn’t the church seen as a community of people who care about the “losers” of society? Why have we become known as joyless party–poopers, rather than joyful life–of–the–party types?

Jesus reached out to include all people. Period. Full stop.

Jesus expressed unconditional love towards everyone. Period. Full stop.

Jesus reached out to welcome everyone into the reign of God’s love. Everyone. Period. Full stop.

I also want to live like that. I want to be a red–letter Christian in that sense, to live in the same kind of exuberant, joyful, welcoming, loving, compassionate way that Jesus modelled.

One of the practical results of this is that I will be proud to be at a “PRIDE & Spirituality” Table with folks from other churches at PRIDE Day on May 28th in Rotary Park. We will join with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, saying that God’s love is so large that it encompasses everyone, without exception.

The example of Jesus shows us that whenever we embrace another, we will find God. Whenever we include and welcome another, we will also be welcomed. As Jesus did, we must continue to foster a climate of inclusiveness, knowing that all people have value and dignity as people of God.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will, surely, perish together as fools.”

Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook

Just Posted

The latest EKASS survey confirms a steady decline in substance use among EK youth over the years. (image compilation via Pixabay)
Latest survey shows steady decline in adolescent substance use over the years

Starting in 2002, the survey has been conducted every two years to monitor changes in substance use patterns, attitudes and behaviors amongst East Kootenay youth.

The Aquatic Centre at Western Financial Place.
Cranbrook Aquatic Center to close temporarily

The annual shutdown of the Aquatic Center at Western Financial Place will begin earlier than scheduled this year and does not have a defined end date at this time.

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read