Monday, August 11, 2008

Small change, big revolution

Is anyone else sick of seeing pain, suffering, violence and injustice? Anyone else sick of living in a world where God seems so absent? Where hope seems to have died in many?

Me too. But we can change it. It can happen.

I've been reading about what's happening in Georgia in recent days and combined with what I've been reading in 'The Irresistible Revolution', I feel genuinely sickened by what human beings are capable of.

This world is so broken. So full of pain. So in need of hope. So in need of Jesus.

Yet because Christians and the 'established church' present such a bad public image of church, people don't see that there is a real genuine hope.

Yesterday I helped clean out a stretch of river in Sutton. Picking up litter, getting rubbish out of the river, finding things like mopeds and computers in the river, and helping remove them.

It was the first time in a long time I actually felt I was living out my faith.

I was actually doing something, rather than just talking about doing it.

Jesus was a man of action, and finally I was taking action myself.

It wasn't enough though, there's always more we can do.

When we actually live out our faith, then we are 'doing church'. Only then are we becoming more fully like Christ in our actions. Only then can we really claim to be followers of Christ.

Anyone can talk a good faith.

Actually living it out, outside of a 'Christian' or church environment is where the real test is.

We don't always get it right, of course we don't and its important people understand we all need grace and forgiveness.

However, if non-Christians see people going to church then not living it out outside of the church, then our faith loses authenticity and legitimacy, its just another bunch of good words and clever-sounding ideas, and there's plenty of them around at the moment.

When Christians take the lead in standing up for the right values and standing against things that Jesus and God is against, when they start to take action, and speak out, then people will finally see what the church and what Jesus is all about.

When thinking about what's happening in Georgia, and seeing a picture of a mother over the body of her dead son, an innocent victim, and reading stories from relatives of victims, I started to feel a righteous anger inside of me, it crystallised how wrong it was, how far we have strayed from God's vision of how life was meant to be lived.

I was sad and angry at the same time. I was disappointed. I was frustrated. I wanted to do something, and the only thing I could think of to begin with was to pray.

I do believe God is upset at what is happening too. Angry even. It pains him to see his people whom He created and loves destroying themselves, destroying His beautiful creation and killing each other. It pains Him to see us so far from how He intended.

This of course begs the question, why doesn't God intervene?

People who don't believe say that He can't exist, they blame God for suffering, wondering why He doesn't do something if He loves us.

Even Christians can start blaming God for their suffering.

I have done in the past.

But God doesn't make these things happen. He doesn't start these wars or elect these governments.

In Genesis God put us in charge of this planet, He made us stewards of this world. He gave us free will to make our own choices. To live according to His values or to put ourselves centre and do what benefits us, to go the way of violence, death, selfishness, greed, pride and selfish ambition.

In the Bible it says we will reap what we sow.

What seeds is our culture sowing?

What seeds has it already sown?

We are seeing the consequences of what has been sowed years ago.

Maybe God doesn't do anything because He sees tragically that the only way people are going to see their need for Him is through suffering.

Maybe he wants to allow people to see the consequences of following their own values, and let them see where it leads them.

Maybe He knows, being outside of time, that ultimately the outcome will work out for the best.
After all, He allows it in the Bible.

To be honest, we don't know precisely why God allows these things to happen and doesn't intervene.

It happens.

There's no real answer as to why.

We just have to trust God, who uses all things for good and sees everything, future, past, present - all together.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be upset by these events, their consequences or even with the perpetrators behind them, just as I believe God is.

It doesn't mean we shouldn't do something about it or just let it happen. Saying that we trust God with it isn't enough. God wants us to do something. He calls us to it.

Am I saying we should all protest about what's happening and go to Gerogia and try to stop it? No I'm not. Its slightly simpler than that - though no less a challenge.

Let me explain.

Lets get back to the question. What can we do about issues like this, which seem to be so big for us?

Ask yourself. What can I do?

All I could think of at first think of right was praying and trusting God about the situation in Georgia.

But then something else occurred to me. Something different and potentially much more poweful and of much more benefit to God, and indeed His world.

The best way we can deal with practically is by trying to make sure it doesn't keep on happening generation after generation. By starting where we are and making sure that in the small part of God's kingdom we're a part of the values of Jesus are key.

That's something we can all do.

Pray about the big stuff, and if God calls you to go and get involved directly, then do so.

It all boils down to focus on how we can make our little part of God's kingdom more like He wants it to be. Try and put God's values into practice where we are, where we live and work. In all the communities that we are a part of. In whatever part of the world He calls us to go to.

Listen to the call of God and go and live it out wherever we are and wherever He calls us to, whatever the location.

Ideally, as everyone does this, in every level of society things change. Slowly but surely, the values of the Kingdom start to spread, and a 'quiet revolution' happens.

Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed. Mustard seeds are small. But when they grow they move out and take over the rest of the plants and their branches get intertwined with and effect everything around them.

Its no coincidence Jesus used this analogy.

This is how the Kingdom of God works. It starts out small, then as it grows and develops it can take over and become a part of everything around it.

Imagine that happening.

If the next generation were brought up on these values, instead of the values that we're currently brought up on and which effect us so powerfully - sometimes even when we don't want them to - then they could go into every area of life - politics, medicine, law, film & media, music and many others - and take these values with them, and slowly the world could change.

A quiet, peaceful revolution would happen and suddenly would become massive, because the right seeds have been planted.

We can change this world if we put the values of God at the core of who we are, and as we do it will impact the world around us and change it, and the next generation might grow up starting to put these values into place in more and more fields of life.

It can happen. We must pray. We must act. We must do it now. Go on this adventure with Jesus and try to build His kingdom wherever He puts us, and start to truly bring His kingdom to this world.
That's what church and being a Christian is all about.

It really can happen. It seems so big and idealistic, but we have the creator of the universe on our side. The word of God says it itself, anything is possible with God. We just have to belieive it.

Bring the kingdom. Now

Changing the world. Today.

Start small, put Jesus at the centre, give it all you have, and keep doing it.

Eventually it will come. Jesus promises that.

We can help Him start the work now.