What the world needs now

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.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is probably the best example in modern history that I can think of who advocated Jesus’ kind of social change. But did we actually listen to what he said?

“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.

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
This entry was posted in Freedom, Love, Rest of God, Sonship and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to What the world needs now

  1. Good message, Mel. The other day about a 1000 people descended on our dinky town to protest. It was relatively peaceful. The city let them do an art project and paint a giant “black lives matter” on the road in front of city hall and they got pizza so that helps. But what I really feel grateful for is the efforts of a few dozen people on the other side of town, many of them cops, trying to bring this kid back to life after an overdose. I think he’s going to make it. I like to think of Jesus that way, moving quietly among us in this kind of collective effort to bring people back to life.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You make a great point, IB. Thank God that kid’s life matters, too. But we won’t see police doing that on TV because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

      Let me be clear, too. I think people have the right to peacefully protest (like MLK) to bring attention to something that needs to be made right. I’m all for that. But when they use violence to bully and coerce people through intimidation and destroy property, they are thugs, not protesters. And they certainly have nothing in common with Jesus or His Kingdom. However, as you said, bringing people back to life is EXACTLY what Jesus is all about! 🙂

  2. Citizen Tom says:

    Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    Think about the point Mel is making here. We can all be one in Christ Jesus. The key is that we obey His commands and love each other.

    Will we all be the same? No, but the distinctions between us will no longer matter.

    Our distinctions matter now because we put our self first. When we put God first, we realize that the distinctions we put between us are silly things.

  3. tsalmon says:

    Mel,

    I agree with everything here and it is so well put. Let me share my own epiphany on this Reverend.

    I, an old comfortably retired white guy who felt that he “earned” everything that he accomplished from being a Navy Pilot who attained the rank of Commander to being an attorney to being a Captain at a major airline finally to the realization that all that God has blessed me with was not so much “earned” as it was at least in part a benefit of a centuries’ long “culture” of white supremacy in this country. Yes, I said it and I mean it – every person in this country from before it’s inception to this moment has, no matter how unconsciously, benefited from a culture of white supremacy. Not until we see our “culture” for what it is, the good but also the very bad that only our pride causes us to hide our eyes from, will we be able to move beyond “culture” to the purity, the perfection in Christ you so ably talk about.

    Until we all come to similar epiphany, and actualize yours and MLK’s dream that Jesus is not “a culture”, He is not a tribe, He is not a race, He is not a country, He is not a political party, and in fact, the moment we seek to divide ourselves into any such exclusion, we exclude Him first, then we simply will not be able to see Him in all people (even our enemies) as welcomers into the open arms and inclusive Heart of the Body of Christ.

    We need to hear four centuries of suffering and our theft of their lives and labors in cries (and even the angry violence) of those protesting. We need to see Christ crucified again in the pleading of George Floyd as a river of tears (His tears with those suffering) that our easy indifference allowed and continues to allow.

    Mildred Bangs Wynkoop wrote in her “Theology of Love”:

    “LOVE takes the Harshness out of Holiness. Love takes the Incredibility out of Perfection. Love takes the Antinomianism out of Faith. Love takes the Moralism out of Obedience. Love takes the Gnosticism out of Cleansing. Love takes the Abstraction out of Truth. Love puts the Personal into Truth. Love puts the Ethical into Holiness. Love puts Process into Life. Love puts Urgency into Crisis. Love puts Seriousness into Sin. Love puts Fellowship into Perfection.“

    That last one about “fellowship” to me allows God’s Love to transform us into a Body of Christ that transcends all politics, all tribalism, all cultural affiliation and even all religion. That is the impossible “perfection” of fellowship we seek, but as you know, with God all things are possible. I think that that fellowship starts with a simple recognition of the centuries of sadness and pain that goes into, what is less a proclamation than a pleading cry that at long last we see, we really see that “Black Lives Matter”.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      @tsalmon

      Since tsalmon copied and pasted his comment on my reblog, I replied to him there.

      I doubt tsalmon knows Black Lives Matters was started by Marxists. It sounds absurd, but that crap is still on their web site. Several years ago they did not hide it at all.
      https://citizentom.com/2020/06/15/if-we-dont-believe-the-truth-then-we-believe-lies/#more-33553

      • Mel Wild says:

        You’re right, Tom. They are neo-Marxist. In fact, identity politics (pitting one race/class against another) itself is classic Marxism. They will never be satisfied with peace because Marxism is about the constant struggle between classes. My point is, as Christians, this is not the way of Jesus at all. It was not the way of Martin Luther King at all either. As believers, we need to investigate these things for ourselves and look at them in the light of Jesus and His Kingdom, not twitter or the media.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thank you for your thoughts, tsalmon. First, let me say that I totally agree that we should all take a hard look at our assumptions and prejudices. We cannot hide our past. Black lives DO matter; no one is arguing that. Police reform needed? Yes. However, if you’re talking about the organization that calls itself “Black Lives Matter,” they are anything but like Martin Luther King; quite the opposite. They are politically leftist, neo-Marxist organization that seems to have no qualms about forcing their demands through intimidation, violence, and thuggery. They have no wish for peace between races, but constant conflict, for this is the very nature of identity politics, which is fundamental Marxism. I wrote about this in my post, “Following Jesus versus Identity Politics.

      The sad thing is, actually doing something that would change people’s hearts is lost in all the hatred and chaos going on right now. All the innocent people who’ve been killed by the riots, and the homes and businesses looted and destroyed, the terror and bullying and anarchy they’ve incited don’t seem to matter to them at all. This is not the way of Jesus; it’s evil at its core and I would have no part of it.

      Again, let me say that Black lives do matter. But we should educate ourselves more fully about these politically motivated organizations before we jump on their bandwagon. There are also many other Black leaders you won’t hear on CNN that do not agree with their ideology or their tactics.

      • tsalmon says:

        Reverend Mel,

        I am just a sinner Reverend. I spent 20 years as mostly a Cold Warrior who was and probably still would be quite willing to do my small part and to use the most extreme violence to defend free peoples against the tyranny of totalitarian domination in the form of Communist ideology. That said, I’m not Panglossian about the perfection of our democracy any more than I see absolute evil in any enemy, at least not an enemy any farther away than in my own sinful heart, and the Devil tempting every human heart. I would think that that you would be beyond the cognitive distortion of seeing an issue like this with such simplistic dualism. If you seriously think that the tens of thousands of mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters and their supporters are just rubes of a diabolically evil communist plot by followers of the ghost of Karl Marx, maniacally stoking chaos for the sake of world domination, then please forgive me, but I’m a little disappointed in your naïveté.

        I see just the opposite. I predominantly see a very diverse ground swell of people (my 39 year old daughter amongst them) awakened to compassion and love by institutional injustices that go back centuries.

        Most of the time In my youth that I lead a combat aircrew tracking and preparing to attack Soviet submarines and later commanding an intel collection platform, we thought (and often perpetuated the myth) that the Russian Bear was 10 feet tall. (A truly formidable enemy justifies a lot of fun and expensive hardware, don’t you think?). That was until I had a front row seat to watch that bedraggled mangy ursine collapse when no one, even their own leaders, could keep up the moral lie of their own propaganda any more. We should be careful not to make the same mistake.

        While you were studying Jesus and learning the meaning of love, I was studying the ultimate arts of us-against-them violence and destruction. I’ve got a good deal of catching up to do and will probably never learn what you know, You’re a far better and more enlightened soul than I will ever be, and maybe that is part of why you’re not seeing this from a wider, more complex perspective at 40,000 feet.

        Both sides want to paint the other side as “evil”, corrupt and violent. There are always those poor sad pitiable angry souls who live to hate and divide, yes on both sides. The only way not to get caught in that game of division and hate not to play it.

        There are few perfectly good guys and bad guys here. We are all mostly a little of both. If we cannot see goodness in them and feel their suffering, their pain and their frustration for justice, If we can’t see the flaws of hundreds of years of institutional injustice in our own system where whites built up generations of equity while people of color were deprived, then we too may someday collapse under the overwhelming weight of the lies we tell ourselves.

        Identity politics? There’s truth in the fact that some cynics on both sides take advantage of this tribal identity game to divide us, whether it is racial identity or a revisionist nostalgia for some supposedly better era of WASP male cultural superiority. These amoral cynics are those that Reinhold Niebuhr, referring to scripture, called “the children of darkness”, as opposed to “the children of light” whose motives were good even though their methods were often fraught. However, before we cast everyone who disagrees with us as children of darkness simply because a few are angry and violent, we should remember that, although Martin Luther King, Jr did not approve of violence, he also understood the frustration that lead to it. We should also keep in mind that just systemic change often requires us to be uncomfortable and our desire for the stability of an unjust peace can be the enemy of the justice that often comes from a passionate love, To quote MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham jail:

        “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice;”

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thanks again your your thoughtful comments, tsalmon. Let me be clear. I am not talking about the thousands of compassionate people like your daughter, nor am I trying to paint every person who wants true justice with the same brush. I would be in agreement with them. And I couldn’t agree with you more that no person is our enemy. Any person with a heart should want justice and compassion for all people. But there are ideologies at work here that are actually dangerous for a healthy and harmonious society, and have proven, over and over again, to be so. And this is a very different ideology that what Martin Luther King preached. We should be alarmed that these dangerous ideologies have crept into our societal narrative over the last 50 years, cooking us slowly like the proverbial frog in the kettle.

          And it would be naive to think that all that is going on in the name of “Black Lives Matter” has purely social justice motives in mind. I’m sure you would agree with that. And, again, I’m not talking about the people like your daughter. This is what makes it so hard to discern the truth. What we’re seeing is the conflation of people’s true desire to see social change, which is a good thing, with ideologies and narratives that result in the very opposite.

          At the very heart of the BLM organization (not the thousands of compassionate people like your daughter, and myself, who believe that black lives should be equally heard and protected) is an ideology that is neo-Marxist tribalism at its core, that seeks to separate us into classes and races. I’m not trying to demonize them by calling them names; I’m pointing out their ideology. These kinds of organizations are not telling the whole truth, and they dismiss any black person who disagrees with them by labeling them an “Uncle Tom,” and the mainstream press is totally complicit in this. This is not a heart of compassion, it’s a form of totalitarianism. And this is not like Americans hating communists during the Cold War, or about the former Soviet Union, and I’m especially not talking about the people there. I dearly love the Russian people. I’ve ministered there and have gotten to know their hearts, and have many friends there.

          Again, it’s not about the people, it’s about the ideology behind a lot of what’s going on. Like you said, we can’t make “them” the enemy; we must hear them out and try to understand their point of view. But there is no hearing the other side going on here; there’s only pushing one’s political agenda. There’s no getting to know people on both sides of the issue. There’s no trying to understand what the other 99% of police who serve honorably might be going through, or seeing them as people, too. It’s just an angry mob storming the castle. It’s all reactionary, based on the images fed to us by the media. And history has taught us that this never truly fixes anything. We’ve certainly learned nothing from history.

          More to my point, none of this represents Christ or His Kingdom. This will never ever lead us to peace and unity. We can march until our feet wear off and nothing meaningful will change. And promoting or allowing violent destruction and terror only makes things worse. It didn’t solve anything in the 1960’s, or any violent overthrow in history, and it won’t today. Things change when people’s heart’s change, not when they’re being terrorized by thugs.

          Injustice between races (and I readily admit there are injustices) will never be solved by making it about “us vs. them” and calling everyone who disagrees with your agenda a racist, or by seeking revenge. This problem is heart issue (on both sides). Yes, we can make 1,000 new laws and totally reform or defund the police department. But until people’s hearts change, nothing really changes. In the meantime, our society continues to crumble.

        • tsalmon says:

          Reverend,

          A cursory look into the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t turn up anything that nefarious, but I will keep looking and following the course of this closely. There are always violent extremists on the Left and the Right however.

          Regardless, the vast majority of protesters are marching peacefully for systemic changes to end the kind of institutional racism that has left people of color in our country imprisoned, impoverished, disenfranchised and disrespected at rates that can only evidence a systemic, if implicit, racism. Where there has been violence, it appears mostly opportunistic and disorganized. If there are insidious violent elements, they don’t seem to have the competence to be leading anything. This all seems more spontaneously driven by social media.

          Yes, the Right and the Left wing press are biased, but they both have the depth and attention span of gnats, swarming toward the latest shiniest object that proves the preconceived narratives of their audiences, including rumors and rumors of rumors about shadowy dark forces of white supremacists and Antifa.

          Whether these kinds of protests will actually bring about real systemic change remains to be seen. It’s just a hobby that I began in the Navy and continued after I got my Law Degree, but I’ve been studying the history and systemics of the development of the Modern Democratic State for decades. It seems to me that protests alone rarely do anything constructive unless they translate into a viable political movement. And even those movements are often coopted or marginalized by power players with their own larger agendas. OWS got nowhere beyond a park in NYC. The Tea Party became a potent political force, but their movement was largely taken over by powerful energy lobbies with their own deregulatory agenda – notice that their main issue, out of control deficit spending by big government, has only gotten worse under the politicians who have only pandered to them.

          For those same reasons, I agree with you completely that violent mob overthrow rarely gets the mob what they wanted, but rather just gets them a new, often worse, tyrant. As a retired Naval Line Officer, I’m out of my element on theological grounds for limited violence, but in the matter of the creation of the modern democratic state, history shows that not all violence appears to inevitably lead to more authoritarian revanchism. Our own violent revolution against England is an example. Nor does working within the system necessarily always work – Hitler was popularly elected.

          That said, in my old age, influenced by the profound theology of love promulgated by enlightened scholars like you, this retired warrior has come to believe that sacrificial love is a more powerful weapon for change than all the nuclear weapons on the planet. I have come to believe God’s incarnate love in Christ is the force that drives the universe and every particle in it at every moment in time. Along with a billion other conflicting vectors of emotion and force (including some dark cynical ones using hate), I truly believe a general uprising of compassionate love sparked by George Floyd’s crucifixion under the knee of a sadistic cop generally drives this moment. It really is up to leaders in love like you to get out ahead of that groundswell of love and make sure that it remains both peaceful and effective. However, as you know better than I, “peaceful” does not always mean idolizing the stability of a dehumanizing status quo – Jesus’ death on a cross was not “peaceful” in that sense, but it began to turn the old order upside down, and with thought leaders for love like you on board Reverend, it just might continue to do so.

          Thank you for hearing me and for your thoughtful responses. They are always enlightening.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Anyone who engages in identity politics is engaging in textbook Marxism. It’s pitting one class or race against another, which is the core paradigm of Marxism. And all of this that’s been going on right now is why I don’t like politics! I have no confidence whatsoever that anything meaningful is going to get solved here, both sides will just dig in. Very bad laws will probably get passed, our history will be systematically destroyed like Nazis burning books that didn’t agree with their ideology in the 1930’s, and it will just make the divide greater.

          As far as investigating the current issues like Black Lives Matter, also check out the other Black voices, like Thomas Sowell, Glenn Loury of Brown University, or Candace Owens, Brandon Tatum, Larry Elder, and Coleman Hughes, and many, many others. These are very intelligent people who do not agree at all with the BLM political agenda or the narrative being forced upon us. Of course, they are being dismissed as “Uncle Tom’s” by those on the radical left. In other words, these leaders are not being heard, but they’re not going to riot and destroy property and beat up innocent people to force their way on people.

          You can also check out a fairly liberal white guy, Jordan Peterson, professor at Toronto University, on identity politics and how postmodernism came from the neo-Marxists like like French philosophers Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. The reason we can’t see this is because our culture’s been cooking like frogs in the kettle on this stuff since the 1970’s.

          Back to my original point, none of it has any resemblance to the teachings of Jesus or the Kingdom of God. It really doesn’t have anything to do with bringing lasting peace and true equality.

          Anyway, thanks again for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          Here is one last video clip I will add here. This one is from Mark Levin (a Jew) who shows clips from BLM’s co-founder opening admitting they are trained Marxists. As Levin points out, they’re also anti-Semetic and are dedicated anarchists. So, when I say their ideology is neo-Marxist, I’m not just dismissing them. This is precisely what they are at their core. And this is not good for Black people (or any people). Don’t be duped by this organization. Please get the facts.

        • tsalmon says:

          “Anyone who engages in identity politics is engaging in textbook Marxism.”

          As I was running down the beach near my Mississippi Gulf Coast home today, I noticed white and black families lazing in groups on the shore with a few mixed race families also cooling off in the hot summer sun and sand. It occurred to me that most of these families, white and black, have had ancestors in this country for tens, maybe hundreds of generations. Had we not spent all those centuries separating from each other by skin tones by now almost all us would be homogenized into a thousand lovely shades of chocolate from a light milky tan to a rich dark mocha. In that alternate reality, I wonder if we would ostracize the very white and the very dark. Such is human nature’s instinct toward tribalism.

          Reverend, I get what you are saying about identity politics, but the threat, if there is much of one, seems more reactionary than revolutionary. “Neo-Marxist Communism”? Sounds like the last remake of a thriller about an old tired bogeyman. Not even the billionaire elite running China really believe in a classless society any more. Lately, I have wondered if market capitalism needs the constant threat of something like Communism just to keep it from collapsing as it grows morbidly obese and more and more corrupt without that shadow of itself to keep it honest. Maybe it’s just me, but authoritarian Putinism seems like a greater actual threat to most of Western democracy’s mixes of market capitalism and social safety nets than than a walking dead Trotsky. Putin isn’t even slow cooking us – he’s doing it out in the open and we’re slathering the barbecue source on ourselves. Maybe you see things that I don’t though.

          Thanks for the reading list. I have read books by a couple of those authors you mentioned and will look into the rest.

          I love your theological writings. Sorry if I’ve over posted. I’ll shut up now.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’m simply pointing out where the ideology comes from; it’s not based in fear or ignorance, and I’m not talking about governments like the former Soviet Union in the Cold War. It has nothing to do with any of that. This ideology (in its many forms) has been openly taught in our western universities for decades. This is no secret. And this particular ideology sets one class or race against the other.

          But the reality, apart from the politics, is more like what you witnessed on the coast. People of all races and ethnic backgrounds living life together peacefully. While reforms are always needed, no one argues with that, systemic racism is a myth. That’s what you will learn from the other voices from the black community (that you don’t hear on the mainstream media).

        • Mel Wild says:

          “I love your theological writings. Sorry if I’ve over posted. I’ll shut up now.”

          Thanks, tsalmon. Again, this is why I don’t like politics. So, I’ll shut up now, too, and get back to what I love! 🙂

        • Mel Wild says:

          Btw, just as a supplemental to better understand what I meant by Marxist influence, this video does a much better job explaining the ideology and how it has influenced our culture, especially right now.

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