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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.

#Advent13: One Candle At A Time

As we have done in years past, we are again blogging our way through the Advent Lectionary readings.  We love this season as it allows us to take time to slow ourselves down and walk between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It is time for us to live in full knowledge of the “Now” of the Kingdom without rushing the “Not Yet” of the Kingdom.  Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.  Our prayer is that these posts will serve as devotional meditations to focus your heart and mind on the imminent coming of our King!

A reading from the Book of Romans.

But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God.  The night is about over, dawn is about to break.  Be up and awake to what God is doing!  God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work He began when we first believed.  We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight.  Get out of bed and get dressed!  Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute.  Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

— Romans 13:11-14 (The Message)

The Word of God for the people of God.

One of our great pleasures in our ministry is being able to share with the Body of Christ in the West what God is doing around the globe.  How He is working to bring people to Himself.  How His people are preparing the way for the Kingdom to come.

We see these evidences of Kingdom coming on every continent.  We see it happening in situations where it doesn’t look (at least on the surface) like anything good could come out of them.

The Kingdom is coming!

Paul, in this letter to the church at Rome, uses a beautifully poetic phrase to tell the church to be ready for the Kingdom.  “The night is about over, dawn is about to break,” he proclaims.

Zechariah in his prayer/prophecy over his son, John the Baptist, uses this same language:

…Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. (Luke 2:78-79, The Message)

The Kingdom is coming.

God’s Sunrise is breaking in.

Dawn is upon us.

Light emerging out of the darkness.

Orderly order coming out of chaos.

And, here, on our way to the manger, we sit in the near dark.  One candle lit, three yet to go, and then that beautiful Eve before the dawn of Christmas, when we light the Christ-candle.

Isn’t that a bit like our own lives?  We sit in the light that we know God has graced us with.  We shine in dark places as that light.  We gather with other lights and bring brighter spots on the globe.  All the while knowing that soon, God’s Sunrise will break through.

We live not longing for light.  Rather, we live as light longing for brighter light.

That’s the beauty of the Kingdom.  We don’t just yearn for heaven.  We live out heaven both in the here and now as well as in the not yet.  Therein lies our hope.  Not that we can’t experience the Shalom–nothing missing and nothing broken–of God now, but rather that it comes to us now.

In bits and pieces.

Ever growing.

Ever expanding.

Like the breaking of the dawn.

It starts as a flicker in the sky.  Then a line across the horizon.

And, even though it comes to us now, we also know that there will come a day when it’s fully realized.  When the sun is bright and high in the sky.

In our text, Paul gives us some instructions on how we should live in this in-between time:

Be up and awake to what God is doing!

We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight.  Get out of bed and get dressed!  Don’t loiter or linger, waiting until the very last minute.  Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

Don’t sit as a lone candle in the darkness.  Be on the move!  Following the Spirit where He leads.  Using your candle to light other candles.

One-by-one.

Until the whole world is awash in the Risen Son!

First Century Oil Lamps in the Antalya Museum

First Century Oil Lamps in the Antalya Museum