Revolutions seem to be the “in” thing nowadays. And one is certainly needed in South Africa. So why not be part of the fashion and have a revolution too – your very own? And if you want an accomplice, Jesus would be happy to help! But He wants it not just for you personally, but for our bewildered country.
Actually He has always been in the revolution business. He started with a few unlikely people and then left them to keep it going. And they did. Just a matter of years after Jesus’ death, the citizens of Thessalonica, in reference to the Christians, were moaning “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17:6).
It was the same wherever they went. Cruel people were outlived and out-loved by them. Brutal governments tumbled before them. Barbaric practices disintegrated around them.The early Christians were revolutionaries of love and song, of compassion and justice. They infiltrated Caesar’s own household within a few years and beat the Roman Empire to its knees in a few centuries. Neither persecution nor death could check them.
Indeed, as Tertullian recognised, the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church.
How did they do it?
How did they do it? It was not by bombs or bullets, protest marches or pickets or random violence of the ISIS sort. It was done by the unquenchable and effervescent proclamation of a living Lord, Jesus the Revolutionary, who changes individuals, and can change countries.
Although He was revolutionary He doesn’t appear that way today. But that is our fault. As Dorothy Sayers observes “The people who hanged Christ never accused Him of being a bore. On the contrary they found Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with the atmosphere of tedium…To those who knew Him, however, He in no way suggested a milk-and-water person. In fact many objected to Him as a dangerous firebrand…
“He insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites. He referred to King Herod as “That Fox.” He showed no proper deference for wealth or social position. When confronted with neat dialectical traps, He retorted by asking disagreeable questions that could not be answered with a rule of thumb. But He had ‘a daily beauty in His life that made us ugly, and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without Him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness.”
That was when things really got going. For right after that the disciples met the Risen Christ. Then they swept forwards like a Prairie fire. The revolution was underway – a revolution which happened one life at a time. And one society at a time. One of the first to experience it was Saul of Tarsus, who later commented “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away. Behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
John Masefield, the English poet, articulated the same revolution centuries later:
“O glory of the lighted mind,
How dead I’d been, how dumb, how blind.
The station brook to my new eyes,
Was babbling out of Paradise:
The Waters rushing from the rain
Were singing Christ has risen again:
I thought all earthly creatures knelt
From rapture of the joy I felt.”
Temple Gairdner of Cairo after his conversion put it this way: “That sense of newness is simply delicious. It makes new the Bible and friends and all mankind and love and spiritual things and Sunday and Church and God Himself. So I’ve found.”
So too can you and I. In searching for and finding Christ we can have our very own revolution. In turning to Him in true faith our lives can be changed and redirected. Surely such a possibility deserves our serious attention, both personally and nationally.
What poor old SA needs
So then, should we not let our New Year’s Resolution be a New Year’s Revolution of New Testament revolutionary Christianity? And for sure this is what poor old South Africa needs. Most South Africans are worried sick about where our country seems to be headed. Thus, anxious books now proliferate. Alex Boraine’s book is entitled: What’s gone wrong? (On the Brink of a Failed State). Community leader, Social Scientist and academic, Paulus Zulu, calls his book A Nation in Crisis (An Appeal for Morality). Celebrated historian R W Johnson’s compelling classic is called How Long Will South Africa Survive? The Looming Crisis.
These realities in our times in this country should call us,in the manner of the Wesleys in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, to pray down and work for a revolutionary revival which will transform our nation into one of love, tolerance, justice, greater equality, and compassionate action.
Could this really happen? I believe it could, if every believer would check in with his or her revolutionary Lord and receive His marching orders.