We want to get rid of a God who calls people to die . . . whose own life winds up on a cross. [This] isn’t the kind of God we want around. But Jesus said that the life of his disciples would be life in the shadow of a cross. It’s a dying kind of living. He said that you don’t know whether it will work or not. Why don’t you break off a few chunks of life and try? You experiment with everything else. Break off a few years, a chunk of your life, and give it in this bold experiment and see what happens. (Clarence Jordan, Cotton Patch Parables of Liberation)
A farmer and New Testament scholar who lived in southwest Georgia, Jordan was the founder of Koinonia Farm, a Christian community that seeks to put into practice a radical gospel ethic. The Farm is 70 this year. Were they alive today, Clarence and Florence Jordan would be 100. As stated on the website (www.koinoniapartners.org): “We are Christians called to live together in intentional community sharing a life of prayer, work, study, service and fellowship. We seek to embody peacemaking, sustainability, and radical sharing. While honoring people of all backgrounds and faiths, we strive to demonstrate the way of Jesus as an alternative to materialism, militarism and racism.”
Every time I come across Jordan’s quote: “Break off a few years, a chunk of your life, and give it in this bold experiment and see what happens,” I’m tempted to do just that. A month seems like a reasonable chunk of time to test a theory, to try out something new, or to see if I can get by without that which I’m convinced is essential. If I can do if for a month, why not two months, or six, or for the rest of my life?
Here are some bold and not-so-bold experiments I think are worth a chunk of my life: Give away something I own every week. Do a 24-hour fast once a week. Walk for an hour every day. Read through the book of Psalms or the Gospel of Mark in one sitting. Read through the Bible. Give money to every homeless person I encounter. Support a child through World Vision. Take a mission trip. Use vacation time to volunteer. Eat one meal a month at a food shelter. Go beyond a tithe. Keep the car radio off. Find a quiet place and sit there every day for fifteen minutes. Consume no alcohol. Stop swearing. Buy local food whenever possible. Choose a developing country and read about it every day. Write at least one handwritten note a week. Spend half as much time on social media. Withhold the percentage of my federal taxes that feeds the military industrial complex.
Jordan understood that though they start small, bold experiments can change the world. Some, in fact, turn into works of art.