Commentary
By Jim Wallis 4-12-2018

We have a political, religious, and moral crisis in America — and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. If we are going to survive this crisis; or better yet, respond to it; or best yet, put our faith into action to turn dangers into opportunities, we are going to have to be more deeply rooted — in our faith, in our relationships to each other, and in our solidarity with the most vulnerable. If we believe chapter 25 of the gospel of Matthew, this will bring us in closer proximity to Jesus Christ himself.

I believe now is a time to come together — more so than any other time in years.

This is the purpose of The Summit 2018: Radically Rooted, coming up on June 13-15 in Washington, D.C. I am personally inviting all faith leaders to join us: come yourself if you are a leader in movements for faith and justice, or invite others who should join this gathering. The Summit is a unique gathering that provides both spiritual grounding and concrete actions for change. At our Summit each year, Christian leaders who believe in social justice gather for both strategy and sustenance.

We need both strategy and sustenance right now. And we will only find them together. Please help us gather effective leaders for this time.

The soul of the nation is now at stake, as is the integrity of our Christian witness, and our very democracy. President Trump is not the cause of the danger in which our country finds itself — he is merely the consequence of trends that have long been taking us in dangerous directions. And the result is a climate where people don’t trust each other, and find it hard to agree on basic sets of facts as starting points for discussing the most consequential issues of today. 

Our faith traditions all tell us that there is always hope — but only if people decide to act. And the decision to show up is what makes change possible, even in perilous and polarized times.

The change we seek will come from people like us gathering to demand it. We can make our political leaders change their course of action, if we raise our voices and apply our energy to public witness, and pressure, and the voting booth.

In a time of division, fear, and disillusionment, some Christians are speaking up to remind us that every human being is created in the image of God, imago dei. These Christians are unequivocally rejecting the overt racial bigotry and misogyny being practiced by this administration. Followers of Jesus are saying that the way we treat the poor, sick, naked, prisoner, and stranger is the way we treat Christ himself, and are calling us to remember that the abandonment of the most vulnerable is a religious issue, not merely a political one. Elders from across church traditions are now declaring that it is time for Reclaiming Jesus, as a confession of faith in a time of crisis.

It has never been more important to grow radically rooted in our faith and our communities. To catalyze, convene, and converge the sparks for the change we seek in our politics and our faith. Being radically rooted means going back to the fundamental nature and “good news” of the gospel, as it was prophesied in the Old Testament, proclaimed by Jesus Christ, and taught by the apostles.

We believe that the life of Jesus and the history of the early church contain the wisdom and nourishment from which the most deeply needed strategy and sustenance spring. Sojourners has always prioritized community, spiritual health, and biblical justice as means to understand how we are to love and to do justice. We believe this is how love looks in the world. Today, these principles and convictions have never been more relevant.

This year has been difficult for many of us. The long, reflective season of Lent began the same day that 17 lives were brutally extinguished at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. It was during Lent that the Trump administration’s stated expiration date for the DACA program occurred with no action from Congress, leaving the fate of almost a million Dreamers in legal limbo. It was during Lent when police in Sacramento, Calif., shot and killed Stephon Clark, an unarmed African American man, their bullets striking him in the back. By the time Easter finally came, I had never been more ready to hear the joyful news of Christ’s resurrection. And yet, even Easter Sunday was marred by a cacophony of vitriol and lies that emerges daily from this White House and its media allies; in this instance, a series of new and hurtful lies about immigration and DACA designed to stoke resentment of “the other” and “the stranger” and further divide our society.

None of us is strong enough to hold up under this relentless onslaught of darkness alone. Not me, and not anyone else. In such a time, justice-minded Christians have three choices: Burn out, breaking down and giving up; Shut down and shut out, retreating into cynicism or private concerns; or Root ourselves firmly, in our faith in God, our relationships to each other, and our solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable who are at greatest risk.

I know I cannot hold up alone, without my my family, my colleagues, and my brothers and sisters in Christ who are traveling the same path toward biblical justice. I need the sustenance and strategy — not just to keep going, but to thrive, and find the joy we need to live, even in times like this. 

That opportunity to root ourselves in faith and community is what The Summit is all about, this year and every year. It’s why we need you to join us, and to tell us which other leaders need to be there, too.

The months ahead could prove to be even more challenging than what we have experienced in 2018 so far. Being faith leaders leaders who claim Jesus as our Lord during a time like this, we will face decisive tests of our vocation. Come share your strengths, your faith, your questions and struggles, and your determination to be with us at the Summit. Come take in the collective strength, faith, and determination of fellow attendees and extraordinary participants.

Apply today or nominate someone you think needs to be here with us in June! We need you. Together, our light can draw strength from the Light of the world, which shines in the darkness, and which the darkness has never and can never overcome. 

Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His new Audible spoken-word series, Jim Wallis In Conversation, is available now, as is his book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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