The Webster dictionary defines a revolutionary as someone committed to the thorough replacement of an established system of government in the hope of seeing radical change in society and social structures.
Various historians have argued that Jesus Christ was the most significant person in history, having the deepest and broadest influence of any person ever. Few profiles of world changers leave Him out of the mix. Whether He gets the top ranking or not, the fact that people around the world continue to recognize His lasting impact on humanity some two millennia after His departure from earth is evidence of a revolutionary life.
We also noted that Jesus Christ is the focal point of the life of every Christian who is a revolutionary today. It is His call to revolutionary living that beckons us and guides us on this path.
But what made Jesus a revolutionary? This is an important question to ponder as we are called to be imitators of Christ. So, we need to look at and learn from His example.
Two critical insights into the revolutionary lifestyle can be gleaned from how Jesus behaved on earth.
The first relates to the objective of replacing an established system of government. We know that Jesus was not a political reformer in the sense of seeking position or power in the public arena. But He did want to reform government – self-government. His message was clear: you cannot rely on public policies and the enforcement of laws to shape your character and lifestyle. It is not your title, fame, fortune, or network that gives you lasting influence; that comes from who you are, in light of your character, your values, and your core beliefs. It is those components that drive the decisions and activities of your life.
So, if you are a Christian revolutionary, it is because you have sensed and responded to God’s calling to be an imitator of Christ. It is not the Church’s responsibility to make you into this mold. It is not society’s job to push you in this direction. You are responsible for who you are. Your choice to become a revolutionary – and it is a choice – is a covenant you make with God alone. The commands and admonitions provided by Jesus to all who would listen were designed to facilitate self-governance that makes each disciple a revolution in progress.
The second insight relates to how an appropriately self-governed follower of Jesus is expected to live. In John 17, Jesus spoke to His followers regarding their responsibility, giving birth to the widely known but inadequately invoked calling to “be in, but not of, this world.” In other words, through consistent devotion to biblical principles manifested in a noticeably different mind-set and lifestyle, the disciple is called to influence the world rather than to be influenced by it.
In a similar manner, then, you and I are called to be revolutionaries by conforming to the will of God and letting that affect every life and decision within our reach. We are not revolutionaries because we join a community of like-minded people, although such ties are integral to our personal development and our spiritual identity. We become revolutionaries through our absolute commitment to think and behave like Jesus in order to show our love for God, and to love other people through our positive influence on their lives.
What does a revolutionary’s life look like? Jesus showed us that our strategy is evident through our priorities. His example teaches that the weapons we use are our demeanour, character, and the presence of the Holy Spirit of God working through us. And His Words instruct us that the mark of success is the identity and the commitment we bring to the role.