I’m back a little late from lunch. The restaurants in the area weren’t prepared for all of us from this conference, and we had pretty slow service. We had great company, though, which made up for it. The second main session has begun. Jim Wallis of Sojourners is speaking. Wallis says that he it’s important that we clear up the confusion about what it means to be Christian. People tell him that they didn’t know you could be a Christian and care about poverty. The story of Luke 14:15-24, the parable of the banquet tells us what God is like, Wallis says. We tend to blame the poor on one side, or debate the causes of poverty on the other. Jesus points to something different: inviting them in. It’s about a welcome table. It’s about inclusion, bringing people into community with us and incorporating their needs with ours. Poverty is resolved by bringing people into community and relationship. It’s also about justice. The Hebrew prophets are especially hard on those who oppress the poor. The God of the BIble is not a God of charity; he is a God of justice who holds kings and rulers and judges and employers responsible for how they treat widows, orphans, and workers about issues of land, labor, and capital. That too is rooted in a vision of right relationships. Rick Warren has said that he’s discovered the 2,000 verses about the poor. Wallis says that he knows what he means. Our Bibles have holes, and we’ve neglected entire sections. We’re now putting our Bibles back together again. We can’t say we believe the Bible unless we believe all of it. A couple of kids heard Wallis talking about some facts: a six-year-old who ways 17 pounds, the 30,000+ children who die each day from lack of water, food, and curable diseases. There’s a silent tsunami killing people every day. One of the kids said, “How come? Don’t people know?” We know, but there are some reasons: 1. The poor aren’t a priority. 800 million kids never go to school. The issue isn’t money. It would take 5 weeks of Iraq. This won’t change unless we bring the poor into community. 2. We have a debate over strategy. The issues are complex, and it’s easier to debate them than to work on outcomes. 3. The issue is relationship. The facts of global poverty won’t change until they become personal to us. When they become personal, it will change us and it will change the facts about poverty. Bono went to Ethiopia as a young man. Someone handed him a child for a photo op, as happens often with rock stars. After, Bono handed the child back. The father said, “No, please take him. He will die if he stays with me.” That changed Bono. Bono spoke at the prayer breakfast. He said that God is with us when we are with the poor. He didn’t say that God is with us when we are for the poor; it’s when we are actually with the poor. Isaiah 65 describes what God hates and God loves. This isn’t a prophesy of heaven; this is God’s vision and aim for human and institutional relationships. Those who ignore God and his issues are destined for poverty. On the other hand, God is creating a world of justice, joy, and hope. He invites us to join in. It will affect life spans, will allow people to enjoy the fruit of their labor, and will result in peace. This isn’t a utopian dream. A similar vision is in Micah 4:1-5. Peace and security are a result of just living. The North American way, Pax America, has more to do with the military approach of Pax Romana. The early Christians challenged this. We have a competing vision of how the world should be. We have to make our choice. The good news is that people making these choices. America is not the light and hope of the world. Jesus is. What does it mean to speak of a revival of faith? We will not get to social justice without a revival of faith. Unless our faith comes alive in the world, education, programs, and policies will never be enough. A good example is the story of Wilberforce, portrayed in the film Amazing Grace. There is no way to understand his work without tying it to a revival of faith. Early altar calls weren’t just for invitations to salvation. It was to sign them up to the anti-slavery effort. Politics is failing to address the biggest issues of the time. Normally when this happens, social movements rise up. The best social movements have a religious foundation. It’s time to raise up a movement that will address the issues of those Jesus called the least of these. It’s happening. The religious right is being replaced by Jesus in America! Wallis spoke at Ebenezer Baptist at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church. He started out weakly, but a brother started crying out, “Help him, Lord!” The more he yelled out the better Wallis preached. Later on, this man said, “No problem, son, I’ve raised up many a preacher in my day.” Ebenezer Baptist has raised up some of the best of our faith in America. It’s time for these issues to be raised once again. Bad religion pulls on our worst stuff: fear, divisions, violence. True religion brings out our hope, hunger for justice, and our faith. We’ve had a lot of bad religion, but something new is happening. It’s time for a revival of faith and a revival of justice. Q&A For the first time we have the information, resources, and technology to end extreme poverty as we know it. The poor can’t just be objects of our concern. They have to be our friends. This isn’t a utopian, ideological dream. We will never eradicate sin. But just as Wilberforce worked to end slavery, we can end specific areas of injustice. There are more slaves today than even in Wilberforce’s day. Some of us this is as simple as mosquito nets, elimination of debt, and providing drugs to those with AIDS. Bad eschatology has led us to devalue this world. It’s because we know that the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of God that we are freed to live that way now. It’s not about abandoning this world because we believe it’s destined to get worse. Desmond Tutu being interrogated: “You are powerful, but we know you’re on the losing side. Since you’ve already lost, we invite you to enjoy the winning side!” Eventually everyone did join the winning side. When Mandela took power, there wasn’t a white person in South Africa who wasn’t always against apartheid. But we aren’t needed at the party. We’re needed now, in order to make the party happen. That is good eschatology. Revival is happening now. The monologue of the religious right is over and a new dialogue has begun. The issue isn’t them. The issue is what we do with our faith. I’m meeting a younger generation of evangelicals who are thinking differently. There are some trying to stop it, but it’s like standing in a river trying to stop the flow. Read Catholic social teaching. It’s personal again. I was taught that Jesus only cared about a personal relationship with him and not with issues like racism. God is personal but never private. God knows everything about us but wants a relationship with us anyway. And he calls us to carry out his agenda in the world. I grew up believing that faith plus doctrine is what matters. James says that it’s faith without works. Without that we’re dead. We can’t be just about social action. Neither can we be about me and Jesus. We have to partner proclamation of the gospel with works. It’s time for us to clear up the confusion. Do we think Jesus’ heart would not be broken by what we’ve done, or been complicit with, when it comes to our first nations? Shouldn’t it break ours too? You don’t change direction by changing politicians who still hold their fingers to the air to see which way the wind is blowing. You bring about change by changing the wind. We are meant to be wind-changers.