I have followed the Irish rock band U2 since 1984. Bono, the lead singer and front man, has never been shy about voicing his concerns about cultural problems. On the Move is the speech that Bono delivered at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. in 2006.
Bono begins by sharing a bit of his family background and the struggles he experienced in a home where his mother was a Roman Catholic and his Father, a Protestant. He quickly learned that “religion often gets in the way of God.”
Bono admits a certain degree of cynicism that began to change in 1997 when a few British Christians began to encourage canceling debts to the poorest of nations. He began to see in a vivid way that we are in an age of grace; grace that was demonstrated in the life and death of Jesus.
He cites Colin Powell who called the AIDS virus “the greatest W.M.D. of them all.” Again Bono admits his cynicism toward the church who often appeared judgmental toward AIDS victims – that is, until some decided to act.
Bono rightly argues that God is concerned with the plight of the poor. He cites Isaiah 58:9-11 that speaks to the needs of the afflicted. Verse 11 reads, “And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail” (ESV).
Bono commends America for providing relief to the poor. He speaks approvingly of the policies of President Bush: “America has doubled aid to Africa. America has tripled funding for global health …”
But his crucial point is a simple one – he argues that the problem is not one of charity, but justice. Bono’s words are sobering: “… There’s no way we can look at what’s happening in Africa and, if we’re honest, conclude that deep down, we really accept that Africans are equal to us.”
In essence, Bono is pleading with America to allocate an additional 1% of the federal budget to the poorest of the poor in the world. He calls his proposal the “Beatitudes for a Globalized World.” Pretty creative for a rock star!
On the Move is a serious challenge to the wealthiest nation in the world. Bono’s argument is carefully arranged; his plea is sound and rooted in Scripture because all people are made in the image of God and have equal standing before God.
Most important is the practical out working of Bono’s faith in Christ. Richard Phillips explores his faith in his recent book, Jesus the Evangelist. He cites Bono: “It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross … It’s not our good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.”