Jim Wallis says I’m wrong.
I’ve lived for a long time with the notion that you can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sails. In the face of the uncontrollable, a smart person is one who adapts before he or she is blown over. Adjust your sails, move with the wind, and you will reach safe harbor. Wallis says that I’m wrong.
Wallis, the author the best-selling book “God’s Politics” says that “You change a society by changing the wind.”
Changing the wind? Is that possible?
Wallis is speaking more than politically here, as we would expect an ordained minister to do, though it is cast in political-speak. He says that some of our greatest leaders were not elected officials who went wherever the wind blew, but rather they knew that they could transform the debate, recast the discussion, and alter the context in which decisions are made, which “changed the wind”.
“Move the conversation around a crucial issue to a whole new place, and you will open up possibilities for change never dreamed of before. And you will be surprised at how fast the politicians adjust to the change in the wind.” God’s Politics, pg. 22.
I think that is an excellent way to describe the ministry of Jesus. Jesus changed the wind.
Jesus reframed so much of the Judaism of his day that he recast the discussion and altered the context in which centuries of religious decisions were made.
Rather than make our religious practice about the temple worship, he made it about the temples of our own lives. Rather than focus on our annual pilgrimage to the Temple, he cast it as a companion pilgrimage along the road to Emmaus. Rather than make it about our own personal piety and purity, he made it about the purity of how we treat others. Rather than make it about Jehovah high upon a mountaintop, it was about finding the Messiah in the face of the least of us.
So, he changed the wind, and in less than three years he upended centuries of doctrine.
Jesus did not fall for the canard of changing things from the inside. He knew that was certain death for his Gospel. By no means did he shun the synagogue, but no one would ever accuse him of co-opting it. Jesus was not a “go along to get along” kind of Messiah.
Jesus moved the discussion of salvation and God’s will to a whole new place. He opened up possibilities for change never dreamed of before, and we are shocked at how fast we have had to adjust to the change in the wind.
Jesus is still changing the wind. As we read and study is words in the New Testament, as we listen to the Holy Spirit among us, we still see new possibilities, discover new places, and find new ways of living out the Way of Jesus. All we need to do is remember that when we act in the name of Christ, we begin to change the wind.