I can sympathize in many ways with all the social unrest going on today, and many things certainly do need to change in how we see and treat one another. That’s not my point here. As a follower of Jesus, I have to ask a bigger question with regard to the unique times we find ourselves living in: How would Jesus have us respond to our current cultural climate?
Because one thing I know for certain: Jesus was not politically motivated and He certainly was no reactionary. His teaching was subversive to the brutal and inhumane Roman world He lived in, but He didn’t traffic in violence so that the marginalized could be heard. He didn’t call seeking revenge justice. He didn’t take part in any of that because it all stems from what He referred to as the “world” system alienated from His kingdom; one that still eats the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This societal construct is not empowered by Holy Spirit nor is it governed by God’s other-centered love: it’s often driven by fear, revenge, anger, hatred, and political divisiveness, which is precisely what Jesus warned against.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.“
Today, it seems to be all about judging one another by skin color, while character isn’t even in the picture. What we’ve seen is our cities burning and our society on the brink of sinking into chaos and anarchy. What we’re seeing is violent force and a totalitarian form of intolerance rising up, where people are coerced and bullied, their very lives being threatened if they don’t submit to the angry mob rule. That would be about as opposite as you can possibly get from Dr. King’s message…or Jesus’ message.
For us, we’re supposed to be Jesus in this world:
17 By living in God, love has been brought to its full expression in us so that we may fearlessly face the day of judgment, because all that Jesus now is, so are we in this world. (1 John 4:17 TPT*)
And if we’re to BE Jesus for our communities, it won’t be by trying to be relevant and reacting to injustice like everyone else, politicizing and polarizing everything into “us vs. them.” This is also quite the opposite of Jesus’ kingdom:
28 And we no longer see each other in our former state—Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor, male or female—because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ with no distinction between us. (Gal. 3:28 TPT*)
Of course, the list above is not exhaustive. There is no ethnic or racial distinction, economic status, or political agendas in the Kingdom of God. We are all one in Christ. And we experientially become one by living in union with Him in the Father.
And THIS is how the world will finally see God’s love for them:
22 For the very glory you have given to me I have given them
so that they will be joined together as one
and experience the same unity that we enjoy.
23 You live fully in me and now I live fully in them
so that they will experience perfect unity,
and the world will be convinced that you have sent me,
for they will see that you love each one of them
with the same passionate love that you have for me. (John 17:22-23 TPT*)
What we need to do is what Jesus actually did, which was live from heaven to earth by remaining in His Father’s love. That’s called obedience to Jesus:
10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10 NIV*)
There is perfect unity and peace in God’s love. And love does no harm to others, no matter what the “other” may represent to us, or what they might’ve done to us.
To obey Jesus means that we would sincerely love those who would want to be our enemies; that we would not seek revenge but treat everyone exactly how we would want to be treated. There’s NO excuse for any other response, no matter how righteous our cause may seem to us. We’re not representing Jesus when we engage with others this way.
This world will never find freedom by one group forcing another to submit to its agenda, no matter how righteous they think their cause. Haven’t we learned this from our long bloody history of violent overthrows?
As the Who song put so well: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
Nothing ever truly changes by coercion or violent overthrow. It changes when people’s hearts change. And it’s God’s kindness and love (demonstrated through us) that changes people’s hearts.
And this world Jesus loves so much that He died for it doesn’t need our religious imitations, trying to copy His behavior instead of incarnating His life; or worse, making Him fit into our political agenda. No, it needs to see our repentance, which means we surrender all of that to Jesus and learn how to live according to His life by the power of the Spirit. And this will only happen when we let Him train our souls to live where our spirit already resides—in heavenly places in Christ. Only then will we actually begin to represent Him like He represented His Father.
As the song goes, what the world needs now is love, sweet love….
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.” (“What the World Needs Now” – Burt F. Bacharach / Hal David)
And the Source of love is found in God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-21). And when we receive that love from God, we will love everyone else the same way He loves us.