I am not - nor will I ever be - a media darling. I’m just not the sound bite kinda guy. It doesn’t seem to matter which medium it is. Last fall, after spending 15 minutes brilliantly sharing my knowledge of our local homeless situation with a local TV reporter, then rushing home to see what golden nugget of wisdom they chose for their story, I was crushed to hear a five second sound bite of me saying, “People need bathrooms and if they don’t have one they just use whatever they can.” “Genius!,” they called me. “Such a profound grasp of the obvious,” they said. I still carry the scars of being known as “Captain Commode”.
So you have to know that I was a little bit nervous last Wednesday night at our Pride and Joy service when I found out a reporter from the State Journal-Register was going to be present. He did quote me, accurately, but I had to roll my eyes at what he captured. I was issuing a call for fundamental change – a revolution. I called it a “revolution of love”.
As soon as I read it my inner redneck chimed in. “What kind of mamby pamby fightin’ do you think you’re gonna do in this ‘revolution of love’. Throw flowers at each other? Hug the stuffins out of each other until someone says ‘Uncle!’ What kinda Subaru driving, kale eating, tree hugging hippie philosophy are you pushing?”
I have to admit that a revolution of love doesn’t sound very intimidating or scary. But I will tell you that there is nothing in all of God’s creation more powerful than love. Love is the very essence of God. 1 John 4 clearly spells out the rules of engagement for this revolution. Verses 7-8 say, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Nothing wimpy there.
The love that brings revolution is fearless. Again from 1 John in verse 18 it says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”.
The love that brings revolution comes from the love we receive from God and then share with our kin. Check out these marching orders from verses 19-21, “We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”
With these as our marching orders, what are our first steps in this revolution of love? Do we come out swinging and bashing people by speaking “the truth in love”? Do we legislate God’s standards and force people to love God by following the rules and regulations that we are convinced will make God happy? Do we exclude people from our camp because they aren’t like us, frighten us or don’t believe things the way we do?
NO! This revolution is NOT about conquering and punishing an enemy. It is about encouraging and helping God’s lost and beloved children return home – helping them move from darkness to light, from hatred to love. The first step in THIS revolution is simple human kindness. Being nice to one another. Being generous in sharing the material things God has blessed us with. Weeping with those who weep. Laughing with those who laugh. Walking alongside and encouraging one who’s path is taking them through the shadows. Speaking kindly to one who is down and out. Accepting the one who is different. Seeing your flawed kin as much loved by God no matter what. Helping a stranger fearlessly and with no concern of your own needs.
I can still hear my inner redneck mocking me. “You can’t start a revolution with kindness. The other side will run right over you.”
YES! That might happen. But Jesus taught us that the revolutionary power behind kindness comes from our willingness to sacrifice, to put others needs ahead of our own, to serve with humility and, if need be, to suffer so that others won’t have to. Life changing acts of kindness don’t have to be grandiose. It might be a smile, a kind word, a bus pass, a bag of food, a ride, a phone call or just about anything else that helps others sense the love of God. These are the seeds of revolution!
I think it’s time for my inner redneck to take a hike and let the apostle Paul take the mental microphone.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word and deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17)
Now that’s revolutionary. Cue the Les Mis soundtrack.