Great interview with Jim Wallis on the Today programme.
Jim Wallis has had a big influence on the church in the United States. One of his key points is that if you take social justice out of the bible you take a huge element of the bible away. In fact one of his acted parables was to cut out every verse that related to social justice in the bible and to hold it up – showing how badly the bible is effected when you do.
In the UK it can often be thought that US Christianity is always right-wing Tea Party types but as Jim Wallis made the point on the interview this is changing. Many younger evangelicals in the US have grasped the importance of social issues, issues of justice, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed he maintains that a majority of young white evangelicals voted for Obama.
He raised a number of important issues in the interview. He questioned the role of the media – talking of Fox news being “the assassin of Obama’s religion”. Strong stuff. But as he pointed out Fox have waged a war on Obama “24/7” and have consistently questioned in whether Obama is really a Christian and whether he in fact he isn’t really a Muslim (which he isn’t). Nick Baines makes a similar point about the Mail on his blog today and its role in daily discourse.
More relevantly Jim Wallis questions what lessons we will learn from the crisis. He says that the wrong question to ask is “When will it end?” but rather we should ask “How will the crisis change all of us?” He sees that we need to grasp the nettle and face the fact that, as a society, we have for too long consumed too much and based it on too much debt. He says that consumerism “numbs our minds, it quietens our conscience and it distracts our attention”. I asked a similar question about debt a month of so ago.
He argues that it is “social movements… [that] make change”. In the church we have a social movement that wishes to see and encapsulate change. We want a more just society. We want to see the poor helped. The sick made well. We want to see the Kingdom of God come. For this to happen we need to have our hearts to be softened and our feet hardened and our minds renewed. Too often our hearts are hardened and our feet softened.
We can be overwhelmed by what we can do. But there is hope. We can get involved in our own patch by actively supporting charities aiming to make a difference and being people that model a difference. At Springfield each of our small groups support a charity of their choice. Ones that are close to their hearts – that they can identify with are be involved with. This is besides charities such as RUSH or 5 Talents.
But we also change the world by including others, from all backgrounds, in our community. Making people welcome. Sharing our lives with them. By doing this we are making a difference. By this we are building a community that cares and is transformational.
Many things that we do are small. But these small things can multiply out and make a huge difference to others.
Johnny Laird has links on his blog to where you can see Jim Wallis speak this week. Well worth going to hear. I heard him some years ago and he was great and challenging.