Posted by Andy Jacob

January 23, 2014
This week’s offering is only secondarily a plug to read On God’s Side by Jim Wallis and come to the Brown Bag Book Club gathering this Sunday to talk more about it.  The primary point is to share a bit of Wallis’ wisdom and faith because it is absolutely timely and so utterly timeless.The book is a classically prophetic call to imagine and exercise a faith that makes a difference in the world because it responds to the reality of today’s world.  And so he writes: Christianity is not a religion that gives some people a ticket to heaven and makes them judgmental of all others.  Rather, it’s a call to a relationship that changes all our other relationships.

The goal of the narrative is to lead us to move from claiming that God is on “our” (read family, congregation, ethnic group, community, nation) side to placing ourselves at God’s side.  Wallis claims that for most American Christians this is a transformation that often requires a conversion.  Being converted in this way means focusing on instead of ignoring our neighbor, letting the poor move us instead of serving us, and learning how to understand and even love our enemies instead of just hating and seeking to defeat them.  On God’s side we learn how compassion takes precedence over control, forgiveness over fighting, and reconciliation over retaliation.

Wallis’ primary purpose is to offer a path toward achieving of the common good.  The process is difficult and demands humility, civility, and grace.  The first step is to cease winner-take-all competition between proponents of different perspectives.  The crucial next step is to engage in constructive dialog about differences so that the best of each perspective complements one another.  It is when this happens that we arrive in a new and previously unimagined place.

And so he writes: Don’t go right, don’t go left; go deeper.