Jesus once said that the
Project Mustard Seed isn't a church. It isn't even a true organization. It's more a set of values for us. We believe that at some point a church that lives out these values will be birthed. Our mission is to bring about spiritual and social change to our neighbors. This involves those neighbors here in
This morning Mandy and I watched Bono's speech at the February 2 prayer breakfast. By some of his statements, I don't think he considers himself much of a public speaker, but I thought he did an incredible job. He encouraged, celebrated, and challenged. Below are a few excerpts from the speech, along with the links for both the video and the transcript.
I’d like to talk about the laws of man, here in this city where those laws are written. And I’d like to talk about higher laws. It would be great to assume that the one serves the other; that the laws of man serve these higher laws… but of course, they don’t always. And I presume that, in a sense, is why you’re here.
Even though I was a believer.
Perhaps because I was a believer.
I was cynical… not about God, but about God’s politics. (There you are, Jim.)
Then, in 1997, a couple of eccentric, septuagenarian British Christians went and ruined my shtick—my reproachfulness. They did it by describing the Millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world’s poorest people. They had the audacity to renew the Lord’s call—and were joined by Pope John Paul II, who, from an Irish half-Catholic’s point of view, may have had a more direct line to the Almighty.
What was this year of Jubilee, this year of our Lords favor?
I’d always read the Scriptures, even the obscure stuff. There it was in Leviticus (25:35)…
‘If your brother becomes poor,’ the Scriptures say, ‘and cannot maintain himself… you shall maintain him… You shall not lend him your money at interest, not give him your food for profit.’
It is such an important idea, Jubilee, that Jesus begins his ministry with this. Jesus is a young man, he’s met with the rabbis, impressed everyone, people are talking. The elders say, he’s a clever guy, this Jesus, but he hasn’t done much… yet. He hasn’t spoken in public before…
When he does, is first words are from Isaiah: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,’ he says, ‘because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.’ And Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favour, the year of Jubilee. (Luke 4:18)
What he was really talking about was an era of grace—and we’re still in it.
So fast-forward 2,000 years. That same thought, grace, was made incarnate—in a movement of all kinds of people. It wasn’t a bless-me club… it wasn’t a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions… making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people.
When churches started demonstrating on debt, governments listened—and acted. When churches starting organising, petitioning, and even—that most unholy of acts today, God forbid, lobbying… on AIDS and global health, governments listened—and acted.
I’m here today in all humility to say: you changed minds; you changed policy; you changed the world.
Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives.
Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone.
I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not… But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.
God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. “If you remove the yolk from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places”
It’s not a coincidence that in the Scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It’s not an accident. That’s a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. [You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.] ‘As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’ (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor.
But here’s the bad news. From charity to justice, the good news is yet to come. There’s is much more to do. There’s a gigantic chasm between the scale of the emergency and the scale of the response.
And finally, it’s not about charity after all, is it? It’s about justice.
Let me repeat that: It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.
And that’s too bad.
Because you’re good at charity. Americans, like the Irish, are good at it. We like to give, and we give a lot, even those who can’t afford it.
But justice is a higher standard.
6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store. This is not about charity, this is about Justice and Equality.
Because there's no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa and, if we're honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us. Anywhere else in the world, we wouldn’t accept it. Look at what happened in
It’s annoying but justice and equality are mates. Aren’t they? Justice always wants to hang out with equality. And equality is a real pain.
I want to suggest to you today that you see the flow of effective foreign assistance as tithing…. Which, to be truly meaningful, will mean an additional one percent of the federal budget tithed to the poor.
What is one percent?
One percent is not merely a number on a balance sheet.
One percent is the girl in
One percent is a new partnership with Africa, not paternalism towards