Red Letters

TomRedLetters.pngToday I was going to continue exploring the “how to” of the love we see in Jesus’ Gospels. But instead I want to pause and re-center.

To do that, I want to post the introduction to my book Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds. My blog takes its title from the book, and both share the same purpose.

This introduction was written in 2006. Since that time so much progress has been made, but the core message of Red Letters goes beyond our response to the global AIDS crisis. First, the introduction:

The Christian church owes an apology to the 25 million individuals in our world currently infected with HIV/AIDS.

Those of us who claim to follow Christ’s teachings should be ashamed for what little we’ve done to help the countless millions of women, children and orphans who have died or are dying. Entire nations are going up in flames while we watch them burn.

Bono and the supporters of the ONE Campaign are right when they use words like “crisis” and “emergency” when talking about the situation in Africa. The continent is on fire with AIDS and unless drastic action is taken, entire countries will be wiped off the face of the planet by this disease.

Sadly, the church has been slow to act in response to this crisis. Like the priest and Levite of Jesus’ parable, we have passed by the man on the side of the road, too busy or to “holy” to involve ourselves in lending a helping hand.

Africa is indeed on fire. But as we argue or fuss about how it started and who should be saved first, thousands more children are orphaned each day. Every hour, another 1,000 children will die. Did you know that you are just a short plane ride away from a world where 8-year-old girls prostitute themselves for food?

The true state of emergency lies within the church–it lies within us. It’s our problem. We can’t leave Africa’s children lying by the side of the road as we pass on by. The Gospel I believe in offers a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. The only Gospel worth living is the one that incarnates love. The only Gospel worth giving my life for is the one that elevates the needs of others above my own.

Perhaps we’re afraid. Perhaps we don’t have enough information. Perhaps we’re lazy. Whatever the excuse, we’re running out of time. We need to do something. Today. History will judge our generation on how we responded to the AIDS crisis. History will judge the church on how it responds.

But there is hope. We can make a difference. We can change the world. When we exchange our apathy or uncertainty for compassion, we can move from apology to action. And out of action springs hope–hope and life.

As I mentioned above, this is deeper than just our response to the AIDS crisis. That is just one example of how Christians claim belief in Jesus’ teaching–but fail to put it into meaningful practice in the world.

This blog is an exploration of Christ’s teachings–not His divinity. I am a Christian. You might not be. But if you are interested in the teachings of Christ and desire to live a life that incarnates those teachings in your actions, your habits, and your behaviors, then you are on the right blog.

Ultimately, I want to see a movement of people living the “Red Letters Life.” That, in its simplest form, means proving your belief in Jesus’ teachings with the everyday actions of your lives.

As I wrote in the introduction, we often get distracted from the teachings in favor of pursuing arguments of all sorts–about AIDS, about Jesus, about the Bible, about Christians in general. Those are worthwhile topics for debate on another forum.

This blog is devoted to helping you explore what it means to live the teachings of Christ. Because if we aren’t living them, they are just words. And when we live them out, they become a faith that bleeds.

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