Revolutions always have their leading figures. A hero whose actions and words speak volumes about what they want to achieve: the overthrow of the existing order to bring in a new age of social justice and freedom for all.
There have been a number of personalities down the ages offering their particular answer to the problems of the world. And of course each has attracted people keen for change, people concerned about the burning injustices of their time.
And of course, there always is a burning injustice to revolt against. Life is full of injustice but none of the suggested answers to date seems to have met the case.
Well one revolutionary preached a very different message.
In chapter 3 of Matthew’s Gospel John the Baptist comes on the scene. He had a very different take on dealing with injustice. He preaches the sort of revolution we all desperately need but all assiduously avoid.
In conventional revolutions, “the system”, or the authorities, or someone else is always to blame. To solve the problem, just change the system, or change the government, or get rid of someone.
But this is not the message we hear from John the Baptist.
His message is that the Revolution starts with me; it starts with you; it starts in each individual – and each individual must take their responsibility for their part in contributing to The Problem.
You must change – never mind the political system; never mind what every one else is doing – be they right or wrong.
The revolution and the answer starts with each of us. And the painful truth is that the person who has to change is you, and me, individually.
That’s the way to the answer. The real answer; the true answer; the answer that actually addresses the problem and which brings real and effective results.
John preached: “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
You change. You face up to what you are [a sinner] and you decide to change.
What’s worse, is that trying to change the system out there or other people never really works. Yes the outward appearance may change: the personalities, the names; even the way things are done. But at the end of the day, things ultimately don’t change.
Because people are self centred and selfish, and the last thing they’ll do is admit their responsibility for the state of the world. And even when and where they do, they cannot get to grips with the fundamental issue.
The selfish SELF in every human heart.
John said, that’s got to change, because the real ruler, the ultimate power and authority in this finite, mortal existence is the same authority as the one in the life beyond this mortal life.
And in the spiritual sphere – the unseen dimension which rules this physical and visible world – God is the Governor. And he trucks no rivals.
We don’t like that because SELF is on the throne of our hearts. What I want; what pleases me; never mind others and what they may actually need.
My wants and my Rights come first.
And it is no co-incidence that in today’s materialistic and consumerist world, Rights are trumpeted from the rooftops, but no-one ever talks about responsibilities.
Responsibilities to others, certainly; but primarily our responsibility to God: to recognise him and to realise our desperate dependence on him. The very breath we breathe depends on God who causes our bodies to function and live. To recognise that, ultimately, only God has the power to help us clean up our moral act.
So the message from John the Baptist is this.
You change; obey God.
This is the only true and fundamental solution to a world obsessed with Ego and Wealth and Fame and Power.
Get off the throne of your own heart; forget all the superficial trinkets of this sensory, self absorbed world; don’t worry what others think – it’s what God thinks that matters in eternity; and look to his love, grace and power to energise and motivate you in this world to live for him, not yourself !
When the attitude is right, the next step follows logically and necessarily: –
full immersion water BAPTISM