Life Beyond Blue

But the hard truth is that unless someone reaches the lost generations in our inner city with powerful, life transforming messages, the dysfunctional cycles of violence, poverty and destruction will continue. The people in our cities need the power to change their lives — and that kind of power, for most of the people most of the time in history, comes through transformational encounters with the power and the presence of God. That, historically, is also where we have to look for many of the individuals who are ready to dedicate themselves to the lives of difficult service that our inner cities demand.

If we cannot bring the power of faith to bear on our suffering cities, we will not help most of their inhabitants become the effective parents, breadwinners and citizens we need. I do not say we will get nothing done without faith — but without the kind of transformational power that has historically helped Americans face challenge and change we are unlikely to make substantial inroads on the psychological and personal devastation in our wasted urban landscapes anytime soon.

Walter Russell Meade writes an interesting article about the need to skip over the usual political arguments in addressing the needs of the city.

None of this will solve all our inner city problems completely. But whether you are a diehard Great Society blue social model enthusiast or you are a penny-pinching, welfare-hating red state libertarian, you probably know that the problems of the inner city cannot be solved by civil servants and government programs alone. Finding ways to bring the talents and resources of America’s faith communities to bear on the problems of the neediest among us is something that both left and right should support.

Sure, but the key question for inner city folk is what they think about hell. Right?

Or maybe, they just need some thoroughly good news that brings transformation. The sort the woman at the well heard about and brought back to her city. Of course, Good News isn’t just pretty rhetoric. It’s also compelling action that helps people to know they are valued as real subjects of God’s work, not just objects to be argued over in competing claims of spiritual or political dominance.

It’s just possible that if more of us spent more time like Gene Rivers with the poorest and neediest among us, we might find it easier to keep our political arguments from being so hot and so ill-tempered — and life in the United States might just improve.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

If the Spirit of the Lord is on us, methinks we are called to the same mission.

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