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Seven Revolutions by Mike Aquilina and James Papendrea

#Advent16 — Revolution!

A Reading from Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

Another reason for right living is this: you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of the Lord is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is far gone, the day of his return will soon be here. So quit the evil deeds of darkness and put on the armor of right living, as we who live in the daylight should! Be decent and true in everything you do so that all can approve your behavior. Don’t spend your time in wild parties and getting drunk or in adultery and lust or fighting and jealousy. But ask the Lord Jesus Christ to help you live as your should, and don’t make plans to enjoy evil.

— Romans 13:11-14 (TLB)

This is the Word of the Lord.

When Paul wrote these words to the church in Rome, he did so with great urgency. See, the early Church believed that Jesus was coming back—next Tuesday. It was so close they could almost taste it.

Almost two thousand years have passed since then. The darkness is still pressing in. The hour is still late. And, we still await the return of our King.

But, we shouldn’t let two thousand years of waiting stop us from changing our lives or the world around us. We should continue to live as if the time is short. We should continue to live as if the King’s return is scheduled for next Tuesday.

What does that mean?

What does it mean to live as light in a place of darkness?

Paul’s words to the church at Rome were more than just an admonition to live right in order to be on Christ’s good side when he returns. This admonition goes far beyond that.

Paul is telling these believers in Rome—the ultimate of ungodly empires—that it was time to change the culture in which they lived. It was time to bring light into a dark place. It was time to do things differently than those around them did.

Seven Revolutions by Mike Aquilina and James Papendrea

Seven Revolutions by Mike Aquilina and James Papendrea

I read a great book last year called Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again by Mike Aquilina and James Papandrea. (An affiliate link to purchase the book is at the end of this post.) In it the authors highlighted seven areas where the early Church changed the culture around them. Seven areas where they lived as light in the darkness of empire. Each of these seven areas have a modern-day equivalent. In other words, we Kingdom People need to continue to live as light in darkness.

Empires still exist. Darkness still surrounds us. And, we are still called to walk in and carry the light in the midst of it. To change the world.

That’s what Kingdom People do. They stand up to the empire of man, and bring in the Kingdom of God. Where there is injustice, they bring justice. Where there is fear, they bring love. Where there is conflict, they bring peace.

Sometimes, we do this through active engagement. Standing alongside people who are being forced from their homelands. Opening their homes to orphans, widows, and immigrants. Intervening in conflict by bringing medicine and food.

Sometimes, we do this through passive engagement. Living our lives in a way that is contrary to the culture around us. This is what Paul is talking to the Roman Church about in our text. “Quit the evil deeds of darkness,” Paul writes.

Don’t watch or read pornography.

Don’t cheat on your wife.

Don’t get drunk.

Don’t fight.

Don’t go to wild parties.

Don’t be jealous of your neighbor.

Change the culture by not participating in the culture. Where the culture isn’t in line with the Kingdom of God, don’t be a part of it. Do the opposite.

For we Kingdom People, “everyone else is doing it” is not a valid reason. We must weigh everything we do against the values of the Kingdom. We must live to bring about revolution in the empire of man. To stand firm in the face of that which is not in-line when Jesus and His Kingdom.

Let me leave you with a quote that I came across today by Bishop Robert Barron:

“I don’t think we’ll understand Advent correctly until we see it as a preparation for revolution.”


Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again
By Mike Aquilina & James Papandrea / Image

In Seven Revolutions, authors Mike Aquilina and James Papandrea examine the practices of the early Church – a body of Christians living in the Roman Empire – and show how the lessons learned can apply to Christians living in the United States today. Through expert storytelling and historical insight, the authors show just how revolutionary Christians were against the backdrop of ancient Rome, and just how revolutionary we can be today.

Seven Revolutions by Mike Aquilina and James Papendrea

Book Review: Seven Revolutions by Mike Aquilina and James Papendrea

Seven Revolutions by Mike Aquilina and James Papendrea

Seven Revolutions by Mike Aquilina and James Papendrea

What if I told you that the world is not in a hopeless state?

What if I told you that there are many similarities between the state of the world today and the state of the world at the beginning of church history?

What if I told you we’re not living in post-Christian times, but rather we are living in neo-pagan times?

What if I told you that in the early days of the Church there were seven major revolutions in thinking and action that took place? And, we are moving into a period of history where the Church must again revolutionize the world?

In their new book, Seven Revolutions, Mike Aquilina and James Papandrea give us a window into the early days of the Church. They examine the history of the Roman Empire, and the writings of the Church Fathers and highlight seven areas where the Church—through active example—changed the very course of history.

Our Christian faith should change the world around us. That’s what it means to walk out the Kingdom of Heaven in the here and now. It means that those things that are not as they should be are brought—through our example—back into the order of creation. Where there is brokenness and hurt and pain and suffering, we are to actively bring wholeness and health and healing and life. We are to speak into every area of society and be bringers of the Kingdom into them.

The authors find that the early church brought revolution into the way the Empire thought about the person, the home, work, religion, community, death, and the state. They show us ways in which the early church was counter-cultural even though being so was to bring persecution and death. The early church stood firm in the face of injustice and unrighteousness, and worked to affect change in these arenas.

For instance, in regards to the revolution of community, the authors conclude:

In affirming selfless giving and affirming the poor as worthy of charity (love), the Church rejected the ancient world’s assumption that poverty was the fault of the poor. The Church corrected that world view, providing new perspectives: that there is no hierarchy of humanity; that some people are not more worthy of respect than others, and that a person’s prosperity (or lack thereof) is not a demonstration of their worth.

The authors make a case for calling the culture of modern-day west (led by the United States) neo-pagan instead of post-christian. They illustrate (carefully and with distinction) that the United States isn’t Rome, but has characteristics that are similar to those of the Roman Empire in the early days of Christianity. From that foundation, they build a case for how the Church could again bring about revolution—a shifting from the Empire of Man to the Kingdom of Heaven. They look to the traditions of the Church—the writings of the Church Fathers and the actions of the early Christians—to define terms:

Therefore, when we speak of traditional Christian values, this is what we mean. We mean the protection of human life, which includes support for marriage and the family (as opposed to the apparent conviction of many of our celebrities that marriage is optional); and we mean the protection of human dignity and freedom, which includes ensuring the safety of those most vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and destitution. And these values, which were built over the centuries via divine revelation and historic Christian consensus, must not be marginalized. Freedom of religion is more than freedom of worship. It is also the freedom of religious expression—the freedom to speak and live the faith.

The Church should not co-opt to the ways of the Empire. We are called to stand in contrast to the Empire. We are called, as were the Old Testament Prophets, to call out those things that are not in-line with the Kingdom of Heaven. We are called to highlight those things that don’t look like God’s perfect creation. And, we are called to disciple everyone into the ways of the Kingdom.

Jesus Christ came and offered an alternative to empire. We call it the Kingdom of God, but that phrase in Greek could just as well be translated “empire of God.” Jesus brought us God’s empire and preached it as the Good News—over against the Roman Empire (or any other empire).

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FTC (16 CFR, Part 255) Disclaimer: I received my copy of Mike Aquilina and James Papendrea’s book Seven Revolutions from Blogging for Books for this review.