Sunday, March 6, 2011

Changing the World for Good

Imagine that the leader you have followed for three years was arrested, wrongfully condemned, and executed by the authorities. Since then you've been living on the lamb -- hiding out until things cooled off and you could return to your old job. But then the unimaginable happens: he shows up alive again!

Yes, I'm talking about Jesus. His one solitary life changed the world.

But you and I are not Jesus. Maybe that's what those first followers thought as they heard Jesus talk about the kingdom of God coming to pass at long last. It was hard enough for them to believe that Jesus was alive again. Now they hear that they are to take everything about Jesus to the world and that would change everything.

There are so many other powerful stories already at work. Political, cultural, ethnic, positive, negative. All entrenched for good or ill. Matthew puts it well: "Some doubted." (28:17) What makes these fishermen and tax collectors so special? Why does Jesus entrust everything to them? I think one answer is in Luke 24:44-49.

If we're going to change the world for good we need a message that is connected to everything that has come before. Jesus does this for his first followers: "Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he [Jesus] began to explain to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:27). The gospel is the most recent chapter in the story God has told since Genesis 1.

If we're going to change the world for good we need to have personally experienced what we're talking about. You cannot be like I was one summer between my sophomore and junior college years when I sold memberships in a grocery buying service for my uncle's company. On one of my calls the customer asked, "Are you a member of this?" I had to say "no." I tried to explain that I was just a college student and it wasn't practical (or affordable) for me. No sale.

Christ's followers had lived with him for three years. "You are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:48) If we want to convince someone of the power, love, or presence of God, we had better have experienced it.

If we're going to change the world for good, we probably need to wait. So many of us run off half-cocked with what we think is the best idea since the Internet. It sounds unfaithful or negligent to not act right away. Waiting can mean bouncing the thought off some trusted people or bathing it in a season of prayer. Someone told me recently that before she buys anything online she lets the item sit in her cart for three days. If the need is still there by then, she gets out her credit card.

"I am going to send you what my Father has promised. Stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49) Since God has created the world it makes sense to me that real world change only happens when Divine power is at its core.

They say that change is good. God-inspired, recruited, and empowered change is best.

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