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.
But then my cynicism got another helping hand.
It was what Colin Powell, a five-star general, called the greatest W.M.D. of them all: a tiny little virus called AIDS. And the religious community, in large part, missed it. The ones that didn’t miss it could only see it as divine retribution for bad behaviour. Even on children…even [though the] fastest growing group of HIV infections were married, faithful women.
Aha, there they go again! I thought to myself judgmentalism is back!
But in truth, I was wrong again. The church was slow but the church got busy on this the leprosy of our age.
Love was on the move. Mercy was on the move. God was on the move.
Moving people of all kinds to work with others they had never met, never would have cared to meet…conservative church groups hanging out with spokesmen for the gay community, all singing off the same hymn sheet on AIDS…soccer moms and quarterbacks…hip-hop stars and country stars. This is what happens when God gets on the move: crazy stuff happens!