The Love Revolution - Nathan Shaw
There is a poignant moment in the movie "The Fellowship of the Ring." Frodo – a simple hobbit - has been given the mission of destroying the ring of power. Overcome with the enormity of the task Frodo says to the wise and seasoned Gandalf, "I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened." Gandalf answers, "So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
There are powerful moments in history that change the future forever. We live in such a time.
The call of God on this generation is greater than any previous generation. We don't choose the time in which we live but we do choose how we respond to that time. We are on the brink of the greatest revolution the world has ever seen. I call it the love revolution.
Five hundred years ago there was another very powerful moment in history. It has become known as the reformation. A man called Martin Luther stood up and boldly declared, "The righteous shall live by faith!" These simple words changed the future forever. They caused a spiritual earthquake that shook religious and political systems. Even more importantly than this it changed the way multitudes of people think. The reformation became the foundation for the freedom that is enjoyed in much of the world today. But that was 500 years ago. It is time for another revolution.
The reformation has shaped so much of today's world but this reformation isn't complete. It is only part of a much bigger plan for God's freedom to be established on the earth. To know where we are going we need to know where we have come from. It is important for us to understand the reformation – both what it accomplished and what it didn't accomplish.
The Fruit of the Reformation
The emphasis of the reformation was faith. The book of Hebrews boldly declares, "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is simple. It is childlike trust in God's goodness. Faith is powerful. It can move mountains (Matthew 17:20, 21:21). However there is a difference between truths about faith and faith itself. This difference is precisely where the reformation lost much of its power. The driving force of the reformation was to defend truths. This mindset still dominates much of the church today. During the reformation and since the reformation multitudes of people have fought for truths about faith but far fewer have walked in faith.
Faith is based on relationship. It goes like this: I know you, therefore I trust you. Defending truths is based on being right or wrong. It goes like this: This truth is correct, everything else is wrong. Doctrinal truth is important but it's not having all your doctrines perfectly correct that pleases God. Faith is what pleases God. Faith is foundational to the Christian life. Faith is about a relationship of trust. It bears the fruit of God's kingdom – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Defending truths, on the other hand, has led to all sorts of division, strife, contention and even killing people in the name of Christ (Galatians 5:15)!
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). The truth is not facts or information. The truth is a person. His name is Jesus. It is in knowing Jesus that we know truth. Faith is not a collection of truths that we stand for, it is trust in a person who is completely true. The writers of the New Testament defended many truths but primarily they were concerned about living and demonstrating a life of faith.
A New Emphasis
There are some important differences between the reformation of 500 years ago and the new reformation we are part of today.
The emphasis of the reformation was faith.
The emphasis of the new reformation is love.
In the reformation the weapon of truth was primary.
In the new reformation the weapon of love is primary.
In the new reformation truth is harnessed by love, subservient to love and empowered through love. It is the combined impact of the weapons of truth and love that enable the church to grow and mature into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
When truth is harnessed by love we grow into Christ.
When truth is separated from love we defend truths.
It is a lot more exciting to grow into Christ than to merely defend truths about Christ.
Behind the reformation was a simple revelation, "The righteous shall live by faith." The first person to pen these words was the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:4). However Paul's writings – particularly Romans and Galatians - took this basic revelation and expanded it majorly. Because of this it was Paul's writings that became prominent through the reformation. This created an overemphasis on Paul's writings. Paul's writings combined with the other apostolic voices in Scripture are strategically important but Jesus is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Two very strategic biblical foundations for the new reformation will be Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and His instruction to His disciples before going to the cross (John 14-17).
The Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount is the first of five teaching sections in the gospel of Matthew. It is Jesus' foundational teaching on discipleship and the foundation for the following four teaching sections in the gospel. The Sermon on the Mount has been much misunderstood, partly because of misunderstanding to do with Paul's writings. When the teaching in these three chapters is correctly understood it leads to a life of incredible freedom. The Sermon on the Mount is sandwiched between accounts of phenomenal miracles that brought radical life change to all those who received them. Interpreted outside of this context this teaching has been used to bring a lot of bondage to people.
There are two dominant and connected themes in the Sermon on the Mount.
- The Father. (Jesus mentions His Father 17 times in these three chapters).
- Our identity as sons.
The new reformation will champion a message about sonship, identity and belonging. There will be a greater emphasis on being rather than doing. After all, you don't try to be a son. You are a son. It is through relationship with the Father that we discover our true identity as sons.
The Way of Love
The love revolution is an overflow of the love relationship between the Father and the Son. In the instruction Jesus gave His disciples before going to the cross (John 14-17) He mentions His Father 51 times. In a dramatic climax He prays that we would be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21)! Jesus' prayer is also a prophecy. This level of oneness is not only possible – it will happen throughout the body of Christ on a worldwide basis.
We can expect to see radical new expressions of love. Love will be demonstrated, experienced and awakened. We have not been this way before. We can be confident, however, because God knows how to lead us into everything He has for us. We simply have to be open to Him.
King David was a revolutionary who had a profound understanding of God's love. He came to this understanding through the simple humility of asking God to reveal it to him - "Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths" (Psalm 25:4). You can start the journey today by making the same request.
© 2015 Nathan Shaw.
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