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3/9/06

convicting quote...

The following quote is from Jim Wallis in his editorial in the latest issue of Sojourners magazine. It really struck a chord with me.
"Go out on the street or to your school or workplace and take a poll. Ask people what they think Jesus stood for. You’re likely to hear things like 'stood with poor people,' or 'compassionate,' or 'loving,' or 'he was for peace.' Then ask them what Christians or the church stand for. And you’re likely to hear some very different things.

We have a problem. Most people have the idea, as crazy as it may seem, that Christians and the church are supposed to stand for the same things that Jesus did. And when they don’t, people get confused and disillusioned. It’s a problem."

I am a committed Christian, a Jesus-follower, and also committed to the church. But Wallis's assessment strikes me as accurate. And, I don't mean for this quote to be used to point fingers at others for how bad the church is. I find myself guilty of causing as much confusion and disillusionment as anyone else might.

Wallis goes on to apply this issue to our country's contemporary situation:

"When Jesus tells us he will regard the way we treat the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner as if we were treating him that way, it likely means he wouldn’t think capital gains tax cuts for the wealthy and food stamp cuts for the poor represent the best domestic policy. Or when he tells us 'love your enemies' and 'blessed are the peacemakers,' it might be hard to persuade him to join our 'war against terrorism,' especially when there is so much 'collateral damage' to civilians, including women and children.

Yes, Jesus is a problem —for many of our churches, the Wall Street traders, and the powerful people in Washington who maintain the American Empire. But for millions of people, religious or not, Jesus remains the most compelling figure in the world today. The church may not be much more credible than the advertisers, the media, or the politicians, but Jesus remains far above the rest of the crowd. Somehow, Jesus has even survived the church and all of us who name his name but too often forget most of what he said."
Thank God for that. Any thoughts?

4 comments:

W Sofield said...

Amazingly powerful. The more I read from him, the more I like him.

What can I say? Thanks for the quote, I think he's right on target. Pick up his book, The Politics of God. Excellent reading. We need some political candidates harping on these issues from a political perspective just as Wallis does from a religious one.

Mark said...

I would have a hard time arguing against alot of this.

When I think like Wallis does, which is fairly often, I find myself being poisoned by my own anger (to use a perceptive phrase I read in an Allen Ginsberg interview, describing the possible pitfalls of left-center politics.)

Makes me think about how being a progressive agent might be different from a Christian perspective than a secular perspective.

One thing I think about is how in a truly Christan worldview, you couldn't become self-righteous in your politics (not to say Wallis is). Although social systems may be wrong, and the people running those social systems may be wrong, it's hard to deny and at the same time easy to forget (for me, at least) that the wrong in the world is a mirror of the wrong inside me (Rom. 2?).

One of the most sobering things I've heard lately is a Francis Schaeffer quote saying basically that the family is only a smaller version of the wider society. If this is the case, judging by my own actions, there's no reason to be bewildered about why these things are going on.

There are a lot of different angles to this--Christian progressivism (horrible -ism word, I know).

One of the things I think about, from a really big-picture standpoint, is how I see the very things that cause people to be instruments of change cause them (even Christians sometimes), once they gain power, to be instruments of opression. Do I sound too conservative? I thought I might mention this anyway, because I find it depressing and true, an evidence of our being fallen.

And yet these considerations don't excuse us from action, I guess, do they?

I think I could really multiply words on this subject.

Mark said...

I see that, once again, I've repeated what Nick has said, except in a much more drawn-out manner.

--also I would like to add, maybe, I think prayer is a good outlet for the frustration about politics that builds up in me sometimes--an outlet I probably don't use enough.

**OK, that's enough of me for now--I'm tired even of my own self-deprecation

W Sofield said...

mark, great idea about prayer being an outlet for political frustration.

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."