‘Get’ the revolution
— God created the world “very good,” but Adam and Eve’s disobedience ruined it.
— Injustice and conflict replaced the justice and peace God originally created.
— We try to fix the brokenness ourselves, but we fail.
— God did something radical to restore justice and peace.
— Jesus leads us out of brokenness and into healing.
— God wants to use you to multiply justice and peace in the world.
“Evangelical” Christians have devolved the Gospel of Jesus Christ into a message about the afterlife, when Jesus also came to show us how to enjoy abundant life now. We have substituted participation in church activities for loving our neighbor. We have emphasized winning converts, when Jesus commanded us to make disciples. We are building temples, when the Master has ordered his servants into the streets and back alleys.
Our church programs get better and better, yet lost souls stay away by the droves. Even many of our long-time members have quit coming to our shows and drifted away from our activities. And because God’s people aren’t pursuing their mission in the world, our entire society is disintegrating around us.
The heart of the problem is that we aren’t telling people the whole story about salvation. We have filled our churches with people who don’t understand God’s mission in the world or what it means to be God’s people. We have told them God has a wonderful plan for their lives and left out the part where they lose those lives for the sake of the Kingdom.
God is making revolution in the world — literally. He is bringing his broken creation full circle back to himself. God never meant for us to live in a broken world where people struggle and suffer. He never meant for us to wait until the afterlife to begin enjoying abundant life. He has something so much better in mind for us.
May I tell you a story about what God wants life to be like?
The Bible says that when God created the world he said it was “very good.” He made a beautiful garden, and he gave the first man and woman the task of taking care of it. God would come visit Adam and Eve at the end of each day. The garden was a place of harmony and abundance. It was a place of justice and peace, where everything worked the way God intended it to work. (Genesis 2-3) And God wanted things to be that way forever.
Unfortunately, things didn’t stay perfect in the garden. God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree in the garden except one. Have you ever noticed that people always seem to want the one thing they’re told they can’t have? Well, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree.
That act of disobedience ruined Adam and Eve’s relationship with God. Instead of harmony and friendship with God, they were now alienated from him.
Adam and Eve had to leave God’s abundant garden and scratch out a living in the wilderness. Instead of living in a world of justice and peace, they faced a world of injustice and conflict. For instance, it wasn’t too long before someone committed the first murder in human history – one son of Adam and Eve became jealous and killed his brother.
Hatred, brutality, and oppression entered the world. Poverty, hunger, and thirst replaced abundance. Harmony was destroyed, and the world became broken.
We desperately want our peace with God to be restored. We want our hearts and our world to be healed of the brokenness. We want to go back to the garden and live the way God created us to live. We want to have peace with God in this life and in eternity when this life is over.
Throughout the generations, from the beginning of human history, we have tried to earn our way back into God’s favor. All the religions of the world have their rules and rituals. They promise that if you follow their rules and practice their rituals, that God will consider accepting you.
The problem is, we’re all still broken. We still insist on living life our way, instead of God’s way. We keep sinning, and our sin keeps separating us from God. The Bible says all of us are sinners, and our sin only brings us more death — instead of the abundant life we want so badly. (Romans 6) We suffer with death in this world; we dread eternal death in the next.
So we try other things besides religion. We try to use politics to engineer the perfect society. We try to use science to fix the brokenness in our world. But none of it works. We find we’re still separated from God and alienated from other people. No matter what we do, we can’t seem to get back to the garden. And so we lose all hope.
The good news is that God loves us and wants us back in the garden. He wants to bring each of us and our entire world back to himself.
The Bible starts out telling us about a garden, and it ends that way too. The Bible says God will once again plant a garden with a tree of life. And it will produce fruit all the time and the tree’s leaves will bring healing to the nations. (Revelation 22)
God wants us to experience abundance and harmony in our personal lives, in our communities, and in our world. He wants to restore us to wholeness. He wants us to live in justice and peace forever.
But we are separated from God in so many ways.
Because we can’t make our way back to God through our own abilities, he did something radical to make it possible for us to be reconciled to him.
How radical was his solution? The Bible says God became one of us. God took on flesh and blood and came to live among us in the person of Jesus. He lived among us as one of us and showed us how to live the abundant life that God created us to enjoy. Jesus brought us good news that the Kingdom of God had finally come and that God was ready to reconcile with anyone who wanted to be restored.
The Bible says Jesus came to proclaim justice to the nations and set free the oppressed. He brought us grace, love, and faith to replace the hatred, brutality, and oppression that steal our lives. (Matthew 12:18; Luke 4:18)
And Jesus did more than that. God had always required his people to sacrifice animals to show their desire to be forgiven of their sin. But there was so much sin in the world – and so much more to come. How could you ever sacrifice enough animals? Jesus offered himself as a “once for all” sacrifice and allowed his enemies to execute him like a common criminal, even though he had done nothing wrong. His death paid the price for our sins and makes our healing possible. (Isaiah 53:5)
The Bible says God showed just how much he loved us by sending Jesus to die for us. We were helpless to be reconciled to God and restored to abundant life, but Jesus died for us anyway. (Romans 5:6,8)
The Bible says that when we accept Jesus’ death as payment for our sin, God gives us a free gift of life that is full, free and forever. It says that all the old things of our broken world are history, and we become new creatures in Christ. (Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17) The Bible promises that one day God will give us a new earth where justice, peace, and harmony will last forever.
When Jesus died on the cross, he bridged all the gaps that separate us from God. Where we had made ourselves God’s enemies, Jesus made it possible for us to be adopted as sons and daughters of God. And in case anyone doubted that God is able to keep his promise of bringing us back to the garden, he did an amazing thing: Three days after the death of Jesus, God raised him from the dead!
Jesus Christ is alive today, and he offers each one of us a fresh start in life. If we are willing to follow him, he will lead us out of brokenness and into healing. Then he will use us to multiply justice and peace into our families, neighborhoods, and communities – even into the whole world.
It’s not an easy journey. We still fight the brokenness. There is still evil in the world. But we have a promise from God himself that if we will trust him and keep walking in his ways, he will set us free, bring us healing, give us strength, and restore us to life that is full, free, and forever. God will give us abundant life for our families and communities today. In the end, when God transforms this world back into his perfect garden, he will give us eternal life.
Does this make sense to you? Do you see yourself in this story? How do you respond to it?
We use an apple to illustrate the story because the apple teaches us two great lessons about God’s kingdom and his mission in our world.
First, apples are delicious to eat. The wonderful taste of an apple reminds us of the simple pleasures of living our lives God’s way. Jesus said he came to give us abundant lives. (John 10:10) Every time I enjoy eating an apple, I am reminded God wants me to enjoy a wonderful life.
Second, apples multiply themselves. An old proverb says, “A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.” Each little apple seed, planted in the soil, can give birth to a tree that can yield a harvest of 500 apples a year. If each of those 500 apples bears 10 seeds, each seed can produce 10 trees that will each bear 500 apples a year — And if each of those apples produces 10 seeds, with each seed producing a tree that will bear 500 apples a year, the multiplication continues.
In just one fruitful season, a single seed can become as many as 5,000 seeds. In a second season, 5,000 seeds can multiply to 25 million, and those can potentially become 125 billion seeds in a third season! That boggles my imagination!
That’s how God’s mission of multiplying justice and peace works. Jesus said that the seed of one life, planted in the soil, would produce “a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24) He said he has appointed us to produce a lot of fruit that will last forever. (John 15:8, 16)
The way that works for you and me is the way it worked for Jesus. Jesus said he completed the work God gave him to do by making God known to a specific group of people God had given him out of the world. (John 17:4-8) Jesus gives each of us a group of people out of the world. He wants us to plant the seed of the Kingdom in each of their lives. He wants them in turn to plant the seed in other lives.
Let’s say God gives you, in the next year, just one other person to join the Kingdom. Then during the next year, each of you rescues just one other. Then the four of you each rescue another in the next year. In the fourth year, eight of you will rescue eight more. Each year, each one rescues one more. The Kingdom multiplies. In 20 years, 1 million people have found freedom and peace with God. In 25 years, 33 million. In 30 years, 1 billion.
Do you see how it works? Do you see the unbelievable potential God has placed inside you to multiply his justice and peace into the lives of others?
God sees great potential in your life. He has a group of people he wants to give you out of the world. Your mission is to tell them the good news of God’s kingdom and show them how God wants to use them to multiply his justice and peace into other broken lives.
Are you willing to join God’s revolution and seek out the people he wants you to recruit?
Make a list right now of the people you need to tell. Ask God to show you the ones you don’t yet know. Talk with them about the things we have discussed here. Ask them to help you multiply God’s justice and peace into other broken lives.
To learn more about multiplying justice, click here.