Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Social Mercy

It is incredibly encouraging to see a generation awakening to issues of social justice. Young idealists and dreamers are channeling their ample creativity, energy, and passion towards the poor and oppressed of our world. Even if (when) the celebrity culture loses focus and moves on to the next frontier of the carefully cool, I believe an impassioned core of committed will remain.

This renewed thrust is a return to our roots. Social justice is a proud part of our holiness heritage, a mark of the Wesleyan movement. Not to mention a central concern in the legacy of a man named Jesus.

But lately I’ve begun to wonder if justice alone is enough. We are compelled to fight for justice on behalf of those who have been denied it. But shouldn’t we fight for more than justice? Is there a step beyond it?

I believe that the ‘more’ is mercy.

Mercy and justice are not the same. They are two sides of the same coin… partners in an intimate and intricate dance, each taking the lead when appropriate…they embrace…they kiss. But they are not the same. A beautifully compatible contradiction.

Justice is fair. Mercy is anything but.
Justice sets things right. Mercy sets things free.
Justice establishes equality. Mercy unleashes extravagant love.
Justice wins for us our rights. Mercy gives us more than we deserve.
Justice is spreading the wealth. Mercy is emptying the purse.
Justice is concrete. Mercy is mysterious.
Justice is the cause. Mercy is the motive.

So, let’s coin a new call: Social Mercy.
A call to set right the laws of man, while setting loose the love of God.

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March Madness

Most people know John and Charles Wesley as the brothers that became reformers of the Church and founders of the Methodist Movement. But few realize that they were also the most dominant backcourt tandem of their day. As you can see from this picture of John, he was a straight up BALLER! Mean cross-over and serious hops.

We dressed up the Wesley statue at Asbury, complete with thuggish headband (idea credit: Jeremy Summers), for the kick-off of March Madness—the most wonderful time of the year.

65 teams, all setting out with the same two things: hope and possibility. Anything can happen. Giants fall. Underdogs shine. Brackets are rendered worthless. And little kids everywhere are taught to dream. That’s the beauty of this thing they call the Big Dance.
Is there any greater event in the world of sports?

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Let’s try something. Let’s back away from revolution. Not the real thing itself, just the word. Over the past several years we in the Christian subculture have used it so often to describe so much that we have almost stripped it of its power. That word used to freak me out…it had sharp edges…it was dangerous. But we have somehow managed to domesticate it.

It has become a glossed over slogan. A tag line. A way to market concerts and camps.

I recently saw Amazing Grace, the movie about the life of abolitionist William Wilberforce. You should go see it if you need something to do on a weekend (or with the rest of your life). His efforts and convictions brought down the British slave trade. In one scene, the following interaction takes place with his friend Thomas Clarkson:
Wilberforce: “You speak of revolution as if it is a safe thing.”
Clarkson: “It is just a word.”

It is more than a word! It is not a safe thing! I’m not sure you can call something a revolution until someone has spilled some blood over it. This scene reminded me of these words that I scribbled down while waiting in an airport last summer:

revolution begins in the streets…with the oppressed…revolution is never an institutional initiative… it is fluid and flexible… grass roots… from the bottom up… does not fit into existing structures and categories and doesn’t seem to care or be bothered much by that… there is no business model for this…

Revolution begins in the heart of a person driven by a love that is willing to pay any cost. As a result, nothing is ever the same again.

Maybe we should back away from that word for a while, out of deep reverence and respect for it. Out of love for it. Out of hope of being a part of one some day. Let’s reserve it for something that we are actually willing to fight for, to bleed for. It is far too dangerous a thing to be taken lightly.

Disclaimer: One of my best friends is a youth pastor whose group is named ‘Revolution.’ This is in no way meant to be a slam on him. In fact, I know without a doubt that he gets what the word is about. He was a part of a group of kids that taught me what it meant years ago. Now he is leading his own small band of insurgents, with the hope of turning the world upside down with revolutionary ideas like grace and love. That, I believe, is the real thing.