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Everything Must Change

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By Virgil - Posted on 30 December 2007

It was the first day of high-school. We were all high-school freshmen, waiting in the school yard for the school president’s speech to get delivered. It was surely to be just another Communist propaganda-loaded message, about how great the comrades are doing and how Communist education is stellar, so I turned to one of my friends and said “These guys will keep us here all day.” The teacher behind me barked back “These guys who?”When I think about the power of Christianity and the power of Jesus Christ, I often dig through my memories of Communist Romania and the changes brought about by our faith in that despondent country. In December 1989 a virtually unknown pastor named László Tőkés was placed under home arrest by the authorities in Timisoara, mostly because he has made statements regarding freedom to western media. His small congregation was gathering for candlelight vigils around his house and after several days, university students and union workers joined into the vigil and soon tens of thousands of people took to the streets, with the original reason forgotten. It became something which was never intended to be.

This was the spark which initiated the fall of Communism in Romania. And how did things change?

The overthrow was violent and many people died in the process. Many of the old Communists are now still in power under different party systems; they continue to plunder and steal national resources, except now they do it “legally.” Little changed below the surface, and most striking, people are seemingly the same; specifically people’s hearts seem to be the same.

In Genesis 1 the Scripture tells us the story of a Creator turning and shaping chaos into purpose and order. It is not just a story about how God went about creating the Universe, how long it took to do so and the details of the methodology of creation. It is more than that. It’s a story about the nature of our Creator and about his own heart and his image. In Genesis God’s heart and motivation seems to bring about change at the very core of the physical creation. Everything is changed, reshaped, repurposed and remodeled into the vision of what God intended it to be.

In a very real sense the book of Revelation is a retelling of the Genesis creation story. What has been compromised and has become chaotic and without purpose is again being renewed, recreated and remolded into the vision of our Creator. There is however a seemingly paradoxical thing happening: the creator declares “Behold I am making all things new[1] yet this “renewing” of all things happens without the recreation of the physical universe. So how is everything renewed then?

In his book Everything Must Change, Brian McLaren recognizes the key change-factor for all things: hope. He writes: “As I worked on this book – grappling to understand our world’s top problems and to see them in relation to the life and message of Jesus – I was struck as never before with the one simple, available, yet surprisingly powerful response called for by Jesus, a response that can begin to foment a revolution of hope among us, a hope that can change everything. That hope may happen to you as you read, without you even noticing it. If it happens in enough of us, we will face and overcome the global crises that threaten us, and we will sow the seeds of a better future.”[2]

Brian recognizes that hope is the catalyst for change. That is what Jesus brought in the first century, a message of redemption, a message of hope. That was the message of Genesis, which was the hope of a Creator for his creation. That is also the message of the book of Revelation, one of hope and positive expectations. Unfortunately what we often forget as students of the Scriptures, is that hope can really be born only in people’s hearts. It cannot be faked, forced or manufactured. Genuine hope comes from genuine and willing hearts, and therefore genuine change only comes from genuine hearts. And hope for change looks to the future, not to the past.

Eschatological change therefore, as we see it presented is not theological or scholastic in nature, because it is rooted in the message of hope given by Christ, which is a message of redemption, love and equity. Change unequivocally has to involve the hearts of people for it to be effective, and that is what many Christians today fail to realize: the answer is to be found in people’s hearts.

If you hold to a fulfilled eschatology, do you have a vision and hope of a bright future or are you paralyzed by the past? If you hold to a futurist eschatology, does your hope include a re-creation of the physical world or a reshaping of people’s hearts? And after all, which one do you think holds more power? Which one can help us change everything?

We all have politics, religion, -ologies, and knowledge we get attached to. It’s not easy to get along, and building bridges is much more difficult than tearing them down. There are people in this world ready to kill us for being who we are, for being white, black, or speaking the wrong language. There are people living in obscene wealth while others die from hunger. There are people who have sex with children, rape, murder, steal and lie. Inequity is everywhere around us. Yes, there are many sick hearts in this world.

But there is also hope, and the hope assures us that not only everything must change, but that we are the ones that can change everything, by changing people’s hearts.

For me, Communism did not stick, because it failed to change my heart. It was phony, empty, and it failed to provide any hope and therefore any tangible change. I had no respect for the system, for the education, and for teachers. It was notoriously based on fear and scaremongering; and so it failed.

I believe that we can give the world the hope that we can change everything, and our eschatology has the potential to be a huge part of this hope for change. But in order to change people’s hearts we have to offer more than just a year or a date for Christ’s return. We have to offer the world the same hope for justice that Christ brought; we have to renew people's hearts, and therefore participate in the renewal of all things, because by changing people's hearts, we will literally change the very core and nature of the world we live in. Perhaps we can be motivated about the story of an insignificant pastor in Romania, and how his struggle and small congregation brought about the collapse of an entire political system.

After all, it is the message of Christ which indirectly brought Communism down. Ironic that a genuine message of justice brought down the fake system of social justice.

[1] Revelation 21:5, New American Standard

[2] Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change, p 6

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