Real Change – Where Will It Come From? by Greg Albrecht
As the first days of June fall on the land of the free and the home of the brave protestors in the streets demand “real change.” Many politicians say we must “fix racism” once and for all. The thugs who either already were or who became criminals as they looted and destroyed explained that they were only “taking back what was taken from us and from our parents.” Justice is the hope and the demand. And how might that justice be defined and how will this “real change” come about?
It seems Cain was looking for “real change” and “justice” when he killed his brother Abel. Cain’s answer is the human answer – it’s our history and our methodology. Those in charge take and get what they want – those who are not are left with what’s left. Those with power lord it over others while those without power plot their revenge. It’s called an eye for an eye and it always produces spiritual blindness.
Bloodshed and warfare defines the history of planet earth and it defines these United States. Our ancestors came to this land and determined to develop and use it and build on it, at the expense of the indigenous American Indians who were already here. Bloodshed followed. It was “real change.”
The history of the United States is not a beautiful picture of peace but of aggression and violence. Many presidencies and administrations in Washington D.C. have been trying to “make the world safe for democracy” for many years. For example, we have tried to remake the Middle East in our image. Massive expenditures and untold suffering have changed virtually nothing. Our history is about command and control, not peace and vulnerability and turning the other cheek.
Peace, vulnerability and turning the other cheek was the message of Martin Luther King Jr. – a message long discarded by most activists today. MLK Jr marched for peace, holding a Bible, and his followers did not burn down buildings and loot stores. He believed in a better world through peaceful non-violence.
That was the legacy and the moral platform Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appealed to this past Friday evening in an attempt to end the violence and looting. As the mayor and as the mother of four children she spoke of Martin Luther King Jr and of Atlanta’s history as being a leader in the civil rights movement. She said, “What I see happening on the street of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos.” She pleaded with those who were looting and causing enormous destruction to “go home! Go home!” Sadly, they did not.
Mayor Bottoms seems to know and believe that more violence will not bring about “real change.” She is a mayor and a mother and thus hopes for a better world, but sadly, the world of human government is often based on forming and shaping the world in its own image.
Forming and shaping the world, all in the cause of “justice” and “real change” has normally, throughout history, motivated states, city-states, nations and empires to employ their industries and technologies and utilize their police and military to make things happen, according to their vision. We Americans have “changed the world” under the banner of progress, success, growth and improvement.
But our changes have left pain, heartache and suffering in their wake. Our changes have often displaced people and created pollution – the changes we have engineered produced toxic water and air that cannot be safely breathed.
It’s virtually automatic for humans to resort to some form of violence and aggression when we think of change and improvement. We justify the use of violence as the only way to improve conditions and bring about peace – scholars speak of “just war.”
The United States of America has a history of “real change” but how that change is defined varies depending on who you are and whether you feel you have benefited or not. A “better” world means safety, peace, equality and an end to hatred, bitterness and malice. But how do we achieve a “better” world? Where is this “real change” that protestors and rioters desire?
For a Christ-follower “real change” happens within, and it happens to us, not as a result of actions we take. “Real change” for Christ followers is not something we do or accomplish or bring about – either for ourselves or for others. As Christ followers we are not charged with fixing the world. Indeed, Jesus didn’t walk the dusty roads of Palestine hoping to fix the world at that time. Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is real and eternal change, but it does not arrive through aggressive evangelism, church growth or indoctrination. The Kingdom of God does not employ violence, but rather peace. The Kingdom of God is not achieved by how we “fix” others or ourselves – it is a spiritual, internal transformation of the heart – a gift of God through the inner life of Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God is all about spiritual healing, not about hurting people hurting other people. The Kingdom of God is all about forgiveness, not about pay back.
Jesus was crucified – he did not crucify others in order to fix the world. He did not tell his followers to react to his crucifixion by looting and burning down buildings. The vision of Jesus is one of peace, a non-violent transformation of human hearts producing reconciliation and forgiveness, rather than revenge and retribution.