The events of December 18, 2010 set off the Arab Spring nearly on the eve of the new year. The distrust, disgust, and dissatisfaction with the current economic, political, and social conditions quickly spread throughout much of the Middle East and North Africa.
Tunisia and Egypt both ousted their long-standing presidents and overthrew the governments (Ben Ali for 24 years and Mubarak for 30 years). Libya erupted in civil war resulting in the fall of its long-standing regime under Gaddafi for 42 years.
Of course Uncle Sam has been reeling with his own financial problems and political dissidence. People are unemployed, foreclosed upon, living with little or no health insurance, and in major debt. They are the 99%.
Thus the Arab Spring model of protest has spilled over to Wall Street.
Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants… the only solution is World Revolution.
I think the whole thing is an interesting background to the recent discussions I’ve been following on the mission of the church. Dissolving repressive governments, ending inequality, and fighting for basic rights is the business these days of both Christian and non-Christian entities. Who doesn’t want these things to end or change?
It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t effect social change in His first coming. He actually resisted political empowerment in John 6:14-15 when the people wanted to make Him king by force. Many Christians are focused on political or social change, but Christ Himself left these human institutions untouched.
I’m not saying that there is no need for them. The world would become distinctly worse if we removed these institutions. But they shouldn’t be the end or goal of our work. They are band-aids at best, not treatments. If the mission of the church is to eliminate poverty, for example, we will be disheartened to read the Lord’s word to the disciples, whom later He sent on mission- “the poor you have with you always (Matthew 26:11).” Clearly then, to disciple all the nations doesn’t mean to end poverty in all the nations.
Paul was the same in 1 Corinthians 7:20-24. He didn’t attempt to change the slave system of the day but emphasized instead a higher goal- using whatever situation you are in and whatever status you have for the advancement of the gospel and the expression of Christ.
Reforming the oppressive Roman empire or ending the inhumane system of slavery were not the focus of the early church. In a sense these other messages can become pseudo-gospels or at least distractions from what is truly unique to the role the church plays in this age.
Israel was the means for Christ’s first coming and the church is the means for Christ to come again.
The Coming King
At Christ’s second coming all the political and social systems WILL be radically changed and even abolished. There will be no war, money, human government, etc. because the kingdom of God will be manifested on earth.
Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O long enduring doors; and the King of glory will come in.
This is where Psalm 24 comes in. This Psalm unveils Christ as the King of glory coming to regain the earth for God’s kingdom.
This Psalm speaks to the “long enduring doors” which poetically depict the longing and desire that
all peoples have, even unconsciously, for Christ’s return. These long enduring doors may as well be the long enduring tents at Zuccotti Park. The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street are recent manifestations of the longing, within even entire nations, for Christ to come. He truly is the Desire of all Nations (Haggai 2:7).
Only Christ’s second coming will bring righteousness, justice, peace, and equality to earth (Psalm 72).
Until then we should focus on saving the people, not the institutions.