Why now? Why hope? Why colors? Why art?

I just returned from an inspiring afternoon with a few hundred people, interacting around the topics of the gospel and social justice, and I wanted to take a moment and share why I’m so passionate about this topic, and hence the book I’ve just written.  My hope and prayer is that this new book finds its way into many hands because I believe that millions are floundering in their faith, or on the sidelines, or simply having the wrong conversations because they’ve not yet truly grasped the significance of the incredible life to which we’re called in Christ.

The book, as many of you already know, is called The Colors of Hope.  You can read a free chapter here.  You can join a Facebook discussion here.  But before you do any of that, I thought answering a few questions would be a helpful:

Why is now the time for this book?  

Our culture has never been more polarized politically, and it seems that the church has followed suit.  There are endless debates about the state of Rob Bell’s soul, as emergent churches shout at neo-Calvinists, and pastors debate attractional and missional models of doing church.  On the internet, among church leaders, it’s loud, it’s judgmental, and it misses the point.  I want to stand up and shout sometimes:  “Can we please stop shooting at each other?  The world doesn’t care about our in-house arguments!  But they do care about children dying of treatable diseases, and income disparity, and global poverty, and human trafficking, and the AIDS crisis.  And Jesus does too.”

This book calls us back to the conversation that the prophets of the Bible called us to, a conversation that challenges us to make the invisible God visible in this world through acts of mercy, justice, and love.  Our world is desperate for this just now, and it kills me to see us obsessing over the wrongs things while ignoring that which is central to the gospel.

Why Hope?  Because the gospel declares that Jesus resurrection has initiated an entirely new trajectory to history, we who follow Christ are able to give more than food, water, economic empowerment.  We’re able to invite people into an entirely different story, not a story of survival, but a story of hope.  We’re able to invite people into an entirely different trajectory of history.  We’re able to invite people to a wholeness that will never come about through economics alone.  This message is the hope of the world and we are the messengers!

Why Colors?  Because God has boiled the whole thing down to three exhortations, three primary colors:  mercy, justice, and love.  I lived life for years using only two colors, and I can tell you it’s wrong.  But when we utilize all three colors, all the beauty and vibrancy that our world needs can come to life as Christ followers build clinics, bring clean water, plant tomatoes for neighbors, love the elderly and ill, befriend immigrants, stand in the gap for victims of economic oppression and human trafficking, and so much more.  The world is waiting for these colors.  This book is about why painting these colors is the responsibility of every Christian… and it’s about how to do that.

Why Art?  Because bringing hope to the world requires discipline, just like art.  It requires clearly understanding one’s subject, just like an artist must know the object they’re painting.  There are setbacks, just like artists have.  There’s weariness, and not enough time, and the need to paint during the margins of life because life gets in the way.  There’s the question of what exactly to paint, as we stare at the canvass that is our future.  And yet, paint we must, because we’re born to be creative.   I share stories of people who’ve found their craft and are doing it – faithfully, in the midst of setbacks, slowly over time becoming a voice a hope in their world.  It’s beautiful to see, and it’s the calling of us all.

I hope you’ll share a link to this, or the video below, freely because this is a message, I believe more than ever, that we American Christians need to hear, and to live.  Thanks!

I’ll give a couple books away randomly to those who retweet, or post this on Facebook.

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  • Lynn

    Great message. Truly needed. Can’t wait to read the book! Reposting.

  • Why now, you ask? I doubt it is a coincidence that you, I, and another blog that I follow all wrote about this subject. On my blog I called it being the, “hands and feet of Christ.” I can’t wait to read your book about being colors in a gray world. I believe this may be the most important message that God has for his church, especially given the amount of hurt in the world today. The Kingdom of God is good news to a hurting world; we are to be light and salt to those around us. I believe your book may be at the forefront of God’s message us.

  • S

    Richard, I have to say that as a recovering member of a 12 step program dealing with lust (sex addiction), I have come to experience God’s healing through service for others.
    I used to say “is this all there is?” frequently to myself, wondering how my life, this life, could be so narrow and meaningless.
    Mostly surviving, certainly not thriving.
    As a member of my program, I have dozens of friends that know everything about me, I mean every sexual misdeed, and that truly call me a friend. I have been told that I am a light of gods miracle in their lives for being there for them, serving them, helping them.
    As far as current society goes, I’m the worst of the worst, a registered sex offender. Yet Christ is active in my life and using my story to help other men avoid my mistakes.
    Sometimes even feel deep peace with my situation. Although I don’t feel that peace everyday, I really have come to know “that peace which surpasses all understanding”.
    Thank God.

  • Just tweeted!


  • Duncan Parlett

    Yes and Amen! However, I have noticed that religious institutions that veer towards the social gospel tend to de-emphasize the spirtual in time; for example, the YMCA. We must love wholisticly and a spirit-filled believer will, but never forget that the essence of the gospel is that we are sinners in need of a savior (Romans).

  • AMEN, Brother! Got your book – I’d be reading it right now, but, gotta read my “Generous Justice” assignment! Great class! I have never before felt this “at home” in a faith community.


    bill Dillon,
    of the Social Justice Army (aka CNCS)

  • YAY!!!!!!!!! Can’t wait, can’t wait, CAN’T WAIT!! 🙂

  • Mira

    So true. The Gospel is a stumbling block to many, but the light on the narrow path. Finding our balance, I think, is our motivation to be grounded in the truth and live a righteous life in loving service.