A Red–Letter community that wants to look like Jesus will dream up whimsical ways to bless individuals with mercy and they will create prophetic ways to dismantle systems of oppression. If the challenge seems too overwhelming . . . do something small.
Don’t compare your contribution to others. Don’t evaluate your success by the impact it makes on social problems. Just do the next right thing. Your humble expression of compassion will be noticed by God; it will be a prophetic demonstration of what life is supposed to look like.
One in ten people on the planet do not have access to safe water; that’s more than twice the population of the United States. “Little Ones” are by far the most vulnerable. A child dies every sixty seconds from water-borne illness. When someone shares a cup of pure water with a thirsty child it does not go unnoticed in heaven.
Go BIG or go home! It’s the battle cry of the western world, tempting us all to believe our worth is measured by the size of our resume. Jesus, on the other hand, seems to value small things—things like cups of cold water given to little children and small coins given to God by poor widows. Jesus celebrates and blesses people who hunger and thirst for righteousness. He lifts up the meek and says they will inherit the earth. He loves when people give themselves to peacemaking; those who do, he calls children of God. Jesus values small expressions of righteousness, justice, and peace, over and above grand displays of personal achievement.
According to Jesus, the kingdom of heaven is an invisible reality that modifies the visible culture surrounding it. The parable of the yeast implies that a micro expression of God’s kingdom, done in secret, will alter the world on a macro level. The world is blessed when church folk take a pass on power, position, and privilege, and choose instead to lead beloved communities in the simple way of Jesus.
explores the upside down kingdom of Jesus
and invites the reader to imagine
a community built on
his counter–cultural values.
The scene is the Last Supper; Jesus is pouring out his heart and sharing final instructions with the disciples. He’s not surprised to discover his friends are only half listening. They are distracted by a familiar argument . . . who among them was considered the greatest? Jesus doesn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great, he simply redefines the meaning of greatness by asking: “Who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?” After a moment to ponder the obvious, Jesus points out: “But I am among you as one who serves.” In the eyes of our competitive, consumer-driven world, the one at the table with the most power and possessions is regarded as the greatest. In the economy of heaven, and in the eyes of Jesus, it is the one who serves.
Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.