We may be living through a period in history that is every bit as revolutionary as the revolutions of 1848 that swept through Sicily, France, Germany, Italy, and Austria. In trying to understand this confusing moment in our history I can’t help wondering if this is what revolution actually looks like?
As a pastor, I get to visit with people who are all over the political spectrum. I have found there is one singular issue that everyone can agree on right now: we have lost faith in the ability of our government to respond to the basic needs of the citizenry. Washington is broken.
A close second would be a growing lack of faith in institutions. Congress has a 7% approval rating. Law enforcement is in trouble. The FBI has become politicized. Education saddles students with massive debt. Wall Street gets a bailout while the middle class languishes. Church attendance is dwindling, and the list could go on.
So one has to ask, “Is there anything that is actually functioning?”
The answer, it seems to me, is simple: corporations.
Corporations have slowly, silently, and effectively seized the mechanisms of government, and corrupted them to serve their own needs over and above the needs of the citizenry.
Corporations have slowly, silently, and effectively seized the mechanisms of government, and corrupted them to serve their own needs over and above the needs of the citizenry. Most of the political institutions on both the left and the right are controlled by corporate interests. The result is, there are few effective checks and balances on corporate power.
In our society, Government is meant to serve as that check on corporate power, but government is dysfunctional. So when we elect a CEO president, then we should hardly be surprised when he thumbs his nose at the traditions and institutions of government.
Historically, what happens next in this story is that some movement or organization emerges to lead and reshape the future of the society in question. These often take the form of revolutions, and they are usually violent.
Revolutionary forces on the right (Brexit, Trump, Le Pen in our time) tend toward the authoritarian, and usually move quickly from nationalism to fascism. They simply cannot be trusted. Those the left are too disorganized, unfocused, corrupt and short sighted to function as a revolutionary body. Plus, most left-wing organizations in America have been systematically dismantled in the name of anti-communism anyway.
So, what is a Christian to do?
Weekly church attendance is somewhere between 50 and 75 million people. Over 50 million Christians claim to believe in the revolutionary love of Jesus Christ that assumes Christian identity should usurp party loyalty… (see Gal. 3:28)
The kingdom of God is the place in which democrats and republicans are required to relinquish those labels for the label of brother and sister.
I’m not saying church should take over the government. I’m just saying our society is ready for a revolution, and we are sitting on the one story that can actually bring true peace. Instead of embodying and sharing that peace, most Christians cling to party loyalty over and above Jesus.
Let’s face it, Christians. This is our big chance and we are blowing it.
The church is perfectly designed to enter into this moment with the revolutionary love of Jesus Christ that seeks the good of neighbor and enemy alike. The gospel calls any Lordship of party or nation into question before the cross. The revolutionary love of Jesus is how enemies become friends, how neighbors get back to neighboring, how old wounds can be healed, and how old sins are forgiven.
The kingdom of God is the place in which democrats and republicans are required to relinquish those labels for the label of brother and sister. If we follow Jesus, then we are required to live on less, so that we can share generously with those who are struggling. When we actually do these things, then the church becomes the revolutionary peaceable kingdom that embodies peace to the watching world.
The love of God that is embodied in little communities of faith and peace is, in a sense, revolutionary. The location of this revolution is not Washington D.C. It’s the local church, your neighborhood, your work.
This revolution calls into question all of our –isms.” It was Shayne Claiborne who once wrote, “When we truly discover how to love our neighbor as our self, Capitalism will not be possible and Marxism will not be necessary.” Our isms are too small for the kingdom of God. Conservers are so important to the people of God. Liberators are essential to the kingdom of God. But, Conservatism is idolatry. Liberalism is idolatry. Christians cannot heed those revolutionary calls.
The true revolution the world is dying for is led by Jesus. His kingdom comes not at the tip of the sword, or through left-wing or right-wing politics. It comes through the wise and patient practice of revolutionary love of neighbor and enemy alike.