The Common Good

What Does It Mean to Be on God's Side, Jim Wallis Asks

Date: April 9, 2013

With a title culled in part from one of his favorite lines from Abraham Lincoln, Jim Wallis' latest book, On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving The Common Good, delves into a discussion on how different communities in America's increasingly pluralistic society can work together to improve public life for the common good.

14 chapters in the nearly 300-page tome, Wallis calls for civil and open-minded discourse among and between religious, political and economic factions to create solutions to problems for the benefit of everyone. In the first chapter of the book, which he aptly titles, "A Gospel for the Common Good," Wallis challenges the religious community to think beyond its own interest.

Religion makes a big mistake when its primary public posture is to protect itself and its own interests. It's even worse when religion tries to use politics to enforce its own codes and beliefs or to use the force of law to control the behavior of others. Religion does much better when it leads – when it actually cares about the needs of everybody, not just its own community, and when it makes the best inspirational and commonsense case, in a pluralistic democracy, for public policies that express the core values of faith in regard to how we should all treat our neighbors.

He suggests in the book that being on God's side is a much more important endeavor for believers than getting God to agree with their position. This, however, required challenging strong personal opinions which is usually very difficult to do.