It’s a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer just a mission project but become genuine friends and family with whom we laugh, cry, dream and struggle. One of the verses I have grown to love is where Jesus is preparing to leave the disciples and says, “I no longer called you servants, instead I have called you friends” (John 15:15). Servanthood is a fine place to begin, but gradually we move towards mutual love, genuine relationships. Someday, perhaps we can ever say those words that Ruth says to Naomi after years of partnership, “Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried” (Ruth 1:16-17).

That’s where things get messy. When people begin moving beyond charity and toward justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends toward folks in struggle, we start to ask why people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to charity. One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of the late Catholic bishop Dom Helder Camara: “When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.” Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get crucified for charity. People are crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world. People are not crucified for helping the poor. They’re crucified for joining them.

— Shane Claiborne, in The Irresistible Revolution


“Never befriend the oppressed unless you are prepared to take on the oppressor.”

— Ogden Nash


I’m tired of having ideals and not living them. God, I want to change.
I am wrong and of these things I repent.