I’m sitting here, under a warm blanket, in our living room, which is lit only by our Christmas tree. I love the little white lights at night.
I just read an article about a 7 year old girl and her mother in Aleppo, Syria, whose Twitter account suddenly went quiet today. There was one last ominous sounding tweet about their certain impending capture by the army, and nothing since.
This strikes me today because it’s also the beginning of the second week of Advent, when we light the Peace Candle (in some traditions, today is the Love candle – either is fitting).
In the beginning God created the earth and everything in it. We can argue about how long it took – whether it was literally six days, or whether it took more or less – but that’s not the point of Genesis 1.
The point is that God created all things with a purpose, a plan and a method in mind. God made people and then “God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'” (Genesis 1:28)
We were put here to be in charge of the earth and everything in it, to oversee and care for it. We weren’t put here to dominate one another.
But then, we did.
We read of Adam and Eve and learn how people chose to have the knowledge of both good and evil. The next thing we learn is that Cain has killed his brother, in a fit of jealousy. He chose domination – and elimination of the competition – over love and it’s continued on throughout history.
Then Jesus enters the scene.
As He is building his “team” of twelve leaders, the mother of James and John approaches Jesus to ask if her sons can be Jesus’ two main men when He comes into His kingdom (she expected Him to overthrow the government and become the king of the country).
He said, “You have no idea what you’re asking for. Do you really think you can handle that?” (slight paraphrase). James and John said, “Yep. No problem.”
Then Jesus called all twelve of them over and said this:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 ESV
Here’s the deal: part of the Gospel package is that we will be empowered, from the inside, to rule, not by might, not by sword, not by tank and machine gun, but by love. By serving in humility, and, quite possibly, not being noticed much at all. By washing feet not trampling people, and creation, underneath our feet.
This is how revolution is to happen. This is who we are meant to be – this is what it is to be human, made in the image of God: to serve.
God loves. He IS love. He IS peace. What we see in Jesus is startling humility and sacrifice. And that is what we are called to, as well – startling humility and sacrifice.
We can only do this by the work of His Spirit, and that is part of the good news (Gospel): He has given us His transformative, empowering Spirit, to make us who we were always meant to be: His image bearers on the earth.
This stands in stark contrast to the power hungry leaders we see around the world. History is stained red by men who sought to dominate one another, by men who stole power and lorded it over each other.
But, it is not to be so with us. It will not be so forever. There will be peace. As I light the Peace Candle this week, I’ll think about the 7 year old girl and her mother and I’ll remember who we were meant to be. I’ll pray for an end to the war in Syria.
I’ll pray for an end to the war inside of me. I’ll pray that I grow in humility and meekness so that in my little world, I’ll lead by serving and loving.
That’s how the world changes: one heart at a time, starting with you and me.