Tony Campolo: Did Jesus Mean What He Said?

One of America's most controversial Evangelical authors and speakers says it's time we read the "red letters" of the Bible -- the words of Jesus. Then the mysteries of living finally become clear.

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“It calls for a radical commitment,” says Campolo. “Don’t we have to embrace the things that Jesus told us to do – if we are going to call ourselves His disciples?”

As a result, for example, we should have Christ’s same concern for the poor. We have no other option, says Campolo, because “On the day of judgment, the Lord will not ask theological questions. He will ask if we fulfilled His commands.”

It should be no surprise that Campolo isn’t exactly embraced by conservative Christians, particularly those whose politics lean to the right. The bulk of his book deals with what Campolo says is a biblical approach to politics -- particularly that Jesus founded a new way of living practiced by transformed people living in a revolutionized society.

To fulfill this, the church’s focus should be to usher in such a Christ-like society, writes Campolo, “by commissioning its members to serve in each and every social institution … and, like leaven and salt, to permeate these institutions with Kingdom values. Being in all the world, living out the love of God, working for justice whenever opportunities arise, and talking about how God is impacting their lives are the activities that make ordinary Christians into effective change agents, and together living the fullness of the presence of God.”

In public appearances and throughout his book, Campolo does not shy away from what Jesus would do about the environment, war, the Palestinian dilemma, the AIDS epidemic, homosexuality, gun control, education, abortion, immigration, crime, the federal budget, minimum wage, the national debt, political lobbyists or campaign finance. Instead, Campolo challenges us to rise to the challenges with a mindset of “what did Jesus tell us to do?”

The church as a whole isn’t doing that today, he says.

“What we are doing right now,” he says, “is acting as though God loves Israelis, but not Palestinians. But Jesus loves all of his people, so that’s the first thing I think Jesus would say. The same UN mandate that created the land that belongs to the State of Israel also at the same time gave land to the Palestinian people.

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