Lord, the Lord Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me. Psalm 69:6
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
A revolution, pretty much by definition, represents a significant shift, a new way of proceeding, a new way of thinking. Any significant shift requires intentionality and direction. It requires vision and a strong sense of mission. And it requires a clear communication of that vision and sense of mission. That means there will be some mantra which reflects some well-defined values to which all the “revolutionaries” ascribe.
The mantra of the American Revolution was “Liberty”, perhaps best captured by Patrick Henry’s famous quote: “Give me liberty or give me death.” The mantra of the Mexican Revolution was “Tierra y Libertad”, or “Land and Liberty”. Every revolution has some clear objectives in that regard.
When a rebel or soldier in a revolution “breaks rank” and places some other (personal) agenda above that of the revolution, it brings disgrace to the revolution. It is treason, disloyalty of the highest order. It is Judas “selling out” Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It is horrible and devastating by just about anyone’s standards.
Christianity is a revolution. It has represented the single largest and most sustainable “shift” the world has ever known. In the face of oppression and hardship, it has only grown more quickly and flourished. In the face of suppression by governments and education systems, it only gains strength and sustainability. It is perhaps the clearest example of “revolution” the world will ever see.
What is the “mantra” of this revolution? What is it’s highest value? Morality? No. Doctrinal purity? No. Truth? Well, yes but no. All those are high values to be sure, but none of those are the highest value. None of those are the things for which Jesus said this revolution will be known. Rather, any fair reading of the gospels and of the early church history will show that the clear and inescapable “mantra” of this revolution we call Christianity is…love. It is unconditional, unreasonable, inexplicable love.
And, just to keep this from sounding like some shallow, worldly version of it (“What the world needs now is love, sweet love…”) let me give a little more detail. At the heart of this revolution is the Spirit of God, living and manifesting itself through God’s people. And the fruit of that Spirit, according to scripture, is love. And joy, and peace, and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control. Those are the kinds of qualities and characteristics which are earmarks of this revolution.
If these are the hallmarks of this revolution, why do you suppose we “break rank” and exhibit radically different attitudes with such alarming frequency? How is it that, from the very beginning of this revolution, no matter how clearly Jesus illustrates what our attitudes SHOULD be, we are willing to bring disgrace to Him and to the revolution by rather exhibiting personal agendas, selfish ambition, fits of rage, bitterness, envy, and dissension? Why is it that, in our very “fight” for the revolution, we break rank and treat even our fellow revolutionaries with disdain, not to mention those outside our ranks? How can we justify that? And why do we shrug our shoulders with such shock and surprise when those outside our ranks point at us and laugh and scoff and call us hypocrites?
I’m meditating this week on the 69th Psalm. I’m having some trouble. Can you tell?