This book by Jim Wallis was a welcome read for me, but I was ready to consider his ideas. For some time I’ve been more loyal to Jesus than a political party. I am registered as an independent. So I was easily on board when Wallis presented the three target points of his book:
- Christian conversion is to impact more than the destiny of my eternal soul. It is to impact the way I live in this world.
- Faith transcends politics, and
- My faith should be lived in public for the public good.
The book title comes from a quote by Abraham Lincoln, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.” Wallis helps me see that I am weakly committed to God’s side in some areas of political debate. I have been caught up in the either/or mentality rather than both/and solutions. The table below gives an example of what I’m saying. It compares the different views of what causes poverty.
Liberals (blame society)
Conservatives (blame individuals)
|poor-paying jobs||poor work habits and work experience|
|poor education||no dedication to education|
|no or poor child care||having children out of marriage|
|poor housing options||weak family structure|
|lack of affordable health care||substance abuse|
Commonsense says that I have an individual responsibility for improving my conditions, but it also says that forces outside my influence can make my progress more difficult or even impossible. Working from only one side of the aisle will not correct the root of the problem. We have to work on both lists.
Wallis repeatedly discusses “justice”. He explains that justice has a broad range of meanings: righteousness, wholeness, deliverance, Shalom, and healed relationships. He emphasizes that Jesus wants this multi-faceted type of justice for everyone. And he’s afraid that justice can slip to an optional status when it is viewed as an implication of the Kingdom of God rather than an integral part of it.
I really enjoyed this book, but I think some Christians may find it uncomfortable. He really challenges the readers to embrace following Jesus above following a political party.
My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the right side-bar of this blog. Look for “On His Side” as you scroll through the box.