CCDA: Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis, the head of Sojourners, connects with my mind and heart as do few others. He spoke tonight at the Christian Community Development Association conference in Cincinnati. His topic was “How Our Choices Make Change,” and the broader theme was Synergy.

The following are some good quotes and paraphrases excerpted from the message:

First, his word to the people of CCDA: “You are a mosaic of God’s children who love the poorest of God’s children.”

You can’t keep pulling bodies from the river and not go up stream and see what’s throwing them in.

To CCDA: “What you do everyday has made the gospel more creditable in this country. … You are helping to restore our integrity. …”

Synergy teaches us that, no matter what you learned in school, one plus one does not equal two. … Synergy teaches us that when different forces are brought together in cooperation their combined force is greater than the sum of their parts. … In feeding the 5,000, Jesus could have just done it by himself, but the kid with the loaves and fishes gave Jesus something to work with; and, with God, things tend to multiply.

The dangers of government are no more evident than in Revelation 13 where it is a demonic servant. … But in Romans 13, … it is God’s servant for good. …

In last year’s election, sincere people of faith voted differently. … I suspect that no matter how you cast your vote, no one’s going to hell for how you voted. …

At the time I warned about two possible mistakes: 1) To believe that change has already come, or 2) that things cannot change.

“God is personal but never private.”

“Historians say it isn’t revival until it changes something in society,” the public stuff. …

We’ve got some challenges, some chains that need loosening. … Ministry is where we start, but ministry by itself cannot loosen the chains of injustice. The God of the Bible is a God of justice. …

We, as the people of God, are in the mountain-moving business. … We can’t limit God to just changing our neighborhood. God needs to change our nation, our world. It takes synergy.

We’ve got some big fights… The Dow hit 10,000 and unemployment hit 10% in the same week.…

We’re not going to get into partisan battles. We’re going to hold both sides accountable. We’re not going to go left or right, we’re going to go deeper. …

We have got to do more than just care about what’s in our neighborhood, nor can we just lobby in D.C. We must do both. Start in our neighborhoods and then go to Washington and cry, “Let justice roll down like rivers.”

There are different biblical models for how to do this. I’ve been attracted to Amos…. There’s also Joseph, who saved his family from starving. … There’s Daniel, who gave good advice but kept the faith …. Esther who protected her people…. Nehemiah knew the king was not going to rebuild the wall. …

Let’s look at Nehemiah, he may be a prophet for our time. … Martin Luther King Jr. went to Washington after winning the Nobel Peace Prize and after President Johnson had gotten some other key legislation passed. MLK said now we need a Voting Rights Act. … Johnson said he couldn’t do it. … MLK went home and organized in Selma and attention of the nation focused on Selma and in five months we had a voting rights act. … MLK made new things possible.

We can’t just deal with the symptoms, and we can’t just whisper in the ears of politicians. We have to be wind-changers.

Our choices make changes and produce a movement. It’s always the people on the ground with the forgotten people, that’s where the change comes from. …

We have to be those who lift up the synergy of a movement…. We have to go to the root causes. …

“God’s calling up a new generation for a new time such as this. … God is calling us up together. …”

This is the formula for change: Faith that prompts hope and then action action and then change.

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