I was attending the National Pastors Conference in 2009. Shane Claiborne was one of the speakers. This all happened.
Shane Claiborne pulled me up onto the stage, sawed me in half and then laughed as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He must like what he’s doing.
He started off with a simple magic trick. He slightly burned and then tore up a real $100 bill with the help of an assistant from the crowd of pastors. Of course, after he “restored” the $100, he just gave it (for real) to the assistant. I knew he would. He’s Shane Claiborne, after all.
He then proceeded to do a presto-chango from magician to become St. Francis of Assisi. By the middle of the talk he had morphed again into Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Of course, it’s all in what he says. He starts quoting Jesus, “Let him who has two give to him who has none.” As Shane talks about his life, the real magic happens. He turns into Jesus right before our eyes (at least, momentarily). And a small percentage don’t like it. They start to leave. You begin to realize how difficult it must have been to be around Jesus because it’s so convicting.
It’s the impact of a life poured out, gone to the extreme. It makes you question if you could go to that extreme yourself. And THERE is where it gets really scary; because you know you have the ability to go there, but not the desire.
And then, to prove his point, Shane brings out a bag full of $1 bills, which total all of the money he is being paid by the National Pastors Conference to speak here. He starts tossing wads of the greenbacks into the no-man’s land between the stage and the first row of seats, just like I knew he would. He challenges each person in attendance to come forward, reach down and take one as a reminder to do what Jesus said to do with our money and our stuff. It’s what Mother Teresa did. It’s what St. Francis did. It’s what Shane is doing right now.
I decide that I can’t go up for a couple reasons. One: this is way too convicting. Two: I have already been given one thousand $1 bills by Shane Claiborne. About a year-and-a-half after we started Scum of the Earth Church, we received a $1000 check from something called “The Simple Way.” I may have found that out much later, as I do not remember if there was a name on the check. Even so, I had no idea what the Simple Way was. There were no strings attached to the gift. It came at a very good time. We needed it.
Sitting here with all these pastors, I feel Jesus pulling me toward Himself like we are in some kind of tug-o-war. I’m destined to lose, and I know it. So, I am one of the last people to go up and grab a $1 bill from the floor. There were still plenty left. As I stand there looking down at them, it is obvious that they have all been defaced. Each one has the word, “love.” written on it with magic-marker.