The Needed American Revolution

I hear the word "revolution" thrown around these days. Maybe it's the rural area I live in. Violent rhetoric. Thoughts of a new government. Freedom. Liberty. The American dream.  It's like we're in the last days of America.

The revolution sounds more like a nightmare to me. I've walked the dirty streets of Liberia, traveled the crumbling roads, and seen the results of a modern-day "civil" war. There is nothing glorious in it. Electric boxes that haven't had power flowing through them in thirty years hang lifelessly on the wall. It's not good. Children starving. Dirty water filled with microscopic death. It's more than not good. It's the face of evil.

I get asked questions after giving a lesson that I cannot even fathom despite being in what was once one of the most prosperous African nations. They ask me, "Can someone still be saved if they've killed a man?" Because many of them have killed others in the "civil" war. They follow it and doubt, "Why should I have faith in our bedtime prayers that God will feed me tomorrow if my family went to bed yesterday hungry and are going to bed tonight without having anything to eat?" Imagine going to bed with starving children. Imagine clinging to faith in that situation. We say that we would just go out and hunt, but you can't when all the animals have been killed because of decades of hunting. We say that we go and live in the country and start a better life for ourselves, and we can't because we  will be overtaken by a rogue group stealing, raping, and slaughtering us. When I hear "revolution", I hear echoes of the Liberian "civil" war. I see our children and grandchildren starving, our nice men and women turning into killers, and our village streets flowing with unnecessary blood.  Our pleasant country estates will become unsafe. Our bustling cities will become cesspools of disease, depravity, and death. All the things we take for granted will become luxuries. I see an aftermath that is even worse than the situation being revolted against.

We do need a revolution. But like the things of God typically arrive, the revolution will not be like that.

The discouragement around me is palpable, like a shroud smothering our communities, reminiscent of the blanketing fog in spring. Except the sun doesn't break through and shine its light.

That is a lie. The Son always breaks through.

But we aren't helping ourselves. It seems like many are comfortable electing liars and thugs to lead us. We reward laziness. We promote greed as a virtue. We instigate violence. We encourage debauchery. I say this knowing that the thugs, liars, lazy, greedy, warmongers, and sexually depraved are all made in the image of God. Yet they have been wallowing in the mud of this world. Tarnishing their shine. Losing their gleam.

The solution is still a revolution. But a different revolution. An unusual revolution. A Kingdom Revolution.

Jesus established a kingdom that conquers by changing hearts through love and truth. Sacrificial love and unpopular truth.  

But what does that look like?

We have to focus our efforts and energies in creating local communities that create something greater. The church is God's ideal instrument for this, yet the change must start in each of us who call ourselves Christian and spiral out of hearts permeated by the truth and live lives of loves.

We are struggling to find our identity as followers of Jesus in a post-Christian America. We're like a debutante who hasn't prepared well for her first dance. We dressed up all pretty and look the part, yet we haven't learned the steps. God knows the dance. He's playing the music. And He hasn't given up on us despite all of our missteps. He will forgive us and work with us where we are at. But, rest assured or hesitantly fear, he loves us too much to let us remain where we are at. He has something better for us.

Nebuchadnezzar was once given a prophecy. Not the sort any of us would like to have. It was a prophecy of judgment.

Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity (Daniel 4:27 ESV).

Like all prophecies of judgment, Nebuchadnezzar could avoid the upcoming punishment by changing his life. He had the opportunity to avoid the prophesied punishment and continue in prosperity. To do this, he was challenged to practice righteousness and show mercy to the oppressed. Daniel gave him this advice, which I think all of us who are greatly blessed would do well to take to heart. Nebuchadnezzar didn't change and was punished by being like an animal for seven years.

I feel that God is saying a prophecy of judgment over us. We don't like that. We're prosperous. We're doing well. So was Nebuchadnezzar. He didn't listen. Will we?

We would rather receive a prophecy of success, health, and wealth.  So would have Nebuchadnezzar.

But like all prophecies, the upcoming wrath can be avoided. The message is the same: Stop our iniquities and practice righteousness. Show mercy to the oppressed. Truth and love. An unpopular truth and a sacrificial love. A truth that we don't often want to hear, and a love that we often don't want to live.

If we're honest, we're in the state we are in because of you and me -- because of our churches. We have lived in such a way to make us who we are. Let's change. Let's have a Kingdom Revolution. Let's start with our churches. Let's start with ourselves.