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Listen to the episode here: https://gospelofeverything.com/podcast/how-change-happens
Welcome to the Gospel of Everything podcast where we consider everything in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am your host, Jon Davis.
On this show, we do not obsess over the end of the world, but rather we are looking to see the glory of God show up in every area of our lives. We are not waiting to go down in glorious defeat. We are expecting to win.
Greetings, Victorious Kingdom Ambassador and welcome to the The Gospel of Everything podcast!
My name is Jon Davis and I will be your host. And here on the The Gospel of Everything podcast we talk about anything and everything in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are looking for fellow Victorious Kingdom Ambassadors.
These are people like yourself who are not looking for the end of the world, but are rather looking to bring God's Kingdom more and more into the world.
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But at the time of this recording, today, what is going on in the news is this crazy withdrawal of US and other troops from Afghanistan and the bad guys are taking over.
The Taliban has taken control and people are fleeing in terror. So you can turn on your television or read articles on the Internet and you see pictures of people falling off planes trying desperately to get out of Afghanistan or get away from Kabul or get away from the Taliban. And some people are perplexed.
Why, after 20 years of American and allied presence, is the fall of Afghanistan appearing to be so swift?
So by the time you're hearing this, you will know more about how that story actually unfolded than I know right now. So I don't claim to know how it's going to unfold. But I have been listening to politicians who said this can't happen because of the well trained Afghan Army.
Even back at the beginning, it started out as a war to get rid of Al Qaeda and deal with those who attacked the US on September 11, 2001, right? That's what it was all about.
But there was this idea of the US and its allies are going to build a democracy and a free country in Afghanistan. So here we are 20 years later pulling out. And there's images literally that are reminders of Saigon from 1975.
I'm not sure what year that was. I was four, but I think it was 1975 with a helicopter evacuating people off the roof.
Well, you're seeing similar images, or you were seeing similar images on your news screen about people getting out of Kabul and getting out of Afghanistan.
So here's my question for you to think about today in the light of applying the gospel to every area of life. The gospel of Everything: Why didn't the US invasion and the US and allies and their invasion produce democracy and freedom and a friendly democratic ally, because that's what happens, right?
If you give people democracy and if you give people freedom, they'll do good things, right?
Is societal structure implemented by government or by force the best way to promote social change? Is it even a good way? Is democratic freedom the natural state of human beings? Are the problems in the world just because the structures are screwed up? And if only we had democratic freedom everywhere, the world would be a better place?
If social obstacles are just removed by the government, will people then naturally act like free people?
Is it possible that the geniuses in world leadership have it exactly backwards? It is not a free democracy that produces freedoms. Rather, it is freedom on a heart and mind level and free traditions of the people that instead produce freedom and democracy, meaning, in that case, freedom on a broader political scale.
So it's like we have it exactly backwards. We think that if only there were political freedom and democracy or whatever that even means, then everything would be all right when it seems historically and Biblically to be the other way around.
It's free people that are free in their hearts and minds that produce the things that we call free democracies in the world. These things did not cause themselves. They are a result of something.
Now I do want to acknowledge that... I'm not saying that in no case there's a government action or policy or attempt to create freedom on a public massive level... I'm not going to say that that's not a part of the solution, and that never should happen or never has any effect.
But it's kind of like a spiral.
If you have people that are free in their minds and in their hearts, they tend over time to create free governments and free societies. And then those free governments and free societies tend to facilitate further increase in freedom and democracy and prosperity.
So there is kind of like an upward spiral.
It's like we have a choice between an upward spiral or a downward spiral.
Because if the people are not free in their minds and in their hearts, which hopefully we'll, throughout this podcast, we'll be talking about what that means.
But unless people are free in their minds and in their hearts, no level of democracy is going to create a better world. What if the people are all corrupt in their thoughts and their hearts?
Basically, what if everybody's bad, then what happens? What if everybody has horrible views of their neighbors and horrible ways of relating to others? And then they try and implement that by a democratic vote.
So the ability to have a society where we have a say in the government, where we have the ability to elect or remove our government... This is all dependent on and built on a pillar and a reward for a people that are already on a heart, spiritual and mental level free.
So while I'm not saying that government structure has no influence on whether people will be free, I am saying that the primary dynamic in world history is that a free people produces a free government and not the other way around.
Internal and local freedoms produces democracy and broader political liberty, not the other way around.
More internal and local freedom tends to lead towards a more free society on a larger scale. This then spirals back to creating a more free individual and local freedom or more individual and local freedom, which spirals back to a more free society at large, et cetera.
But the primary agency of change starts at the individual and a local level.
So I wanted to share with you. Those are just some historical observations that I submit are informed by a biblical world view, a Christian worldview, a gospel worldview.
But I want to talk to you a little bit about some of some actual biblical thoughts and biblically inspired thoughts on how change and social reform actually happens. And there's a lot to say on this. In fact, you could say that my whole podcast, all episodes all weeks are about that topic in a general sense.
But I want to give you some thoughts to help you get an understanding of what is going to produce the results that we want, even in our own country, those of us who are in the United States, and there may be a broader audience than that. But I'm living here in the United States, but even in this country, sometimes Christians seem baffled by what's going on around them.
It's like we are supposedly a Christian nation with a Christian heritage and a Christian history. So what's going on?
Why are we being ruled by secularists?
Why are we being ruled by people who are functionally atheist, even if they're not atheist, their government philosophy is. It's Godless.
So how does God actually change things? If we want to change all this, if we want to bring change in a nation like Afghanistan, or we want to bring a change in whatever nation you're listening in, or we want to bring a change in our nation in the United States, how do we do that?
Well, I want you to think about what did Jesus do when he came to change the world?
First of all, I have to acknowledge that really one of his main purposes or his main purpose was to die on the cross and pay for our sins and thus reconcile ourselves and the whole world to him. Right?
There was a scene in the TV show The Chosen - which I love, by the way - I highly recommend it - but there's a scene in it. I don't remember what episode where Jesus is talking to Nicodemus and Nicodemus says something along the lines of "So you're not here to overthrow Rome?"
And Jesus says no, and even though I love the show and would not hesitate to recommend it to everyone, I believe they missed it on that one, or they just haven't gotten to the full explanation yet.
I would say Jesus had not come to overthrow Rome in the way that they were expecting to overthrow Rome.
When we look at what Jesus actually did and then what actually historically happened afterwards, we can get a better clue of exactly how Jesus came to overthrow Rome and all the Romes in history.
So what did he do when Jesus showed up? Did he make himself King? And did he set up a government and become a political activist and promote certain policies?
No. He actually came and preached directly to hearts and minds in Israel, and he dealt with the problem of sinful hearts internal to external. So that could be the tithe of this little portion. Internal to external. Change starts on the inside and on the small side, and on the local side.
There's a song that I remember from my time out in Oregon back in 1992, and I don't know who the author is.
I have an idea who it might be, but I don't know who it is, but in the song they're singing, the Lord reigns, or they say, reigneth reigneth in King James English, The Lord reigneth. He reigneth from the tree.
And there's another line in the song that says he could have come with ten thousands of angels. He could have come with a sword in his hand. He could have come as the lion of Judah and forced me to my knees. But the Lord he reigns. He reigns from the tree, the tree being the cross.
His authority came from laying down his life. The change he was bringing was to change us on the inside, to reconcile us to God on the inside.
And then clearly, if you read and study your Bible, there's an expectation of this to result over time, both individually and in society with external fruit.
Changes will happen over time. But it starts on the inside and then logically, since it starts on the inside of a person, it kind of starts in a local area. It starts in a community, right?
It starts with me and you starting to love one another instead of steal from one another or abuse one another because we've been changed by Jesus.
It starts by us creating a local version of heaven. Right?
So there's kind of the first thought about how change happens in a Christian worldview, but here's another thought. It happens via service, primarily, not by power.
Now, the Bible does talk about civil government, so there is a place for the exercise of the sword - Romans 13 - and for the purpose of punishing evil and creating a base level of safety for society.
I don't know if safety is the right word, but whatever it is.
So there's a place for power. But that's not really where change comes from. That's more like a restraint on evil.
The change comes from service. People laying down their lives.
I want you to think about John chapter 13, verses one through seven, where it says it's the very famous passage where Jesus washed the disciples feet.
Okay, but I want to read to you a certain part of it. So this is chapter 13, verses three.
It says Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with a towel that was wrapped around them.
So what I want you to notice here is Jesus knowing that the Father had given him all power and that he was going to return to God. He knew who he was. He knew the authority and the power that he had. If anybody had the ability to change the world through force, it was Jesus Christ, the living God, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. He could have come here and made the world better by setting up a government and force.
He would make Superman look like nothing compared to what he could do. He could stop every crime. He could stop every evil. He could put everyone under the thumb of authority that would cause the world to be a better place.
But that's not what he did.
He died for our sins and he washed our feet.
This calls to attention the scene in the movie Evan Almighty. I love the movie Evan Almighty. There's some things that are off, but I love the scene where God, the character that plays God, Morgan Freeman, is mopping the floor, and it's because it shows what God is really doing. He is a servant of all.
If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, do what God Himself does.
The one who could snap his fingers and end all of our evil chose instead to come in person and die to pay for our evil and to serve to lay down his life.
So serving your neighbor, serving your family, serving other people in the Church, serving society, laying down your life in giving is the core of where change happens.
So we've got internal to external, local to broader.
Service, not power.
Well, here's another idea that I want to share with you the idea of yeast.
Now I find in the New Testament, yeast is sometimes it's referring to sin or false teaching, and on at least one occasion, it's referring to the Kingdom of God.
But in all of them it has to do with how something very small can get into something and influence the whole thing over time.
So it says in Matthew 13:33 that the Kingdom of heaven is like yeast, and it talks about a woman kneeding it into the dough.
And there's this idea that a very small amount of yeast changes the whole dough and the Kingdom of God works like that.
We are in a very real sense, the yeast in society.
The influence that Christianity has had on the world is incredible. I would refer you to the book by Vishal Mangawadi called The Book That Made Your World.
It's a fascinating book because he talks about a change from the perspective of how the gospel changed India, which isn't even a Christian nation.
But how in spite of the various crimes of the British, the missionaries and the gospel came and brought real change and produced the modern democracy of India. It's quite fascinating.
Have you ever heard it said that all religions teach basically the same thing? The golden rule, love your neighbor as yourself?
I don't really agree with that. A lot of Eastern religions are more about escape, escaping the world and not loving your neighbor unless love means some fluffy thing like let's be one with the universe together, right?
Now I'm not saying there aren't any quotes or thoughts or ideas that would have to do with loving your neighbor.
But I once did a study on reformation in India and something amazed me because I found a list of reformers, most of which seemed to have appeared in the 1800s and beyond. In all but one case... It could be in that case, I just couldn't find it. But in all but one case I was able to trace a connection to William Carey, the missionary.
So a Christian missionary came to India, preached the gospel and taught a wholistic gospel of everything and exemplified a whole gospel.
And reformers came out of that.
So Hinduism, and I'm not trying to insult any Hindus, but Hinduism in its original form doesn't produce social change.
The ideas don't produce social change.
The ideas of Christianity do.
So the yeast is us.
We are the yeast and the ideas of the Bible, the ideas of Christianity, all of the beliefs, systems, ideas, thoughts of Christianity are what produce a free society. That's where it comes from.
So if we want to change India or Afghanistan or America, this is a missional task. This is a missions task. This is a task of preaching the whole gospel, not just individual salvation.
The whole thing. This is where the change comes from. So I think I titled it. What did I title it. Threw the paper down...
A little yeast leavens the whole batch. So the yeast of the teachings and ideas of God, I would say, have even influenced other religions.
So Christian societies have also been influenced by non Christian religions. So that is a human tendency to influence one another.
But sometimes in other religions, you will find ideas that ultimately the religion itself was changed by the presence of Christianity in the world.
So the yeast of Christ, the Holy Spirit and his people and his teachings and his ideas and his laws written in our hearts, produces a different kind of society.
And it changes everything.
Even those who are not born again, even those who do not connect themselves with God for salvation, however, that theology works... Even those people will be influenced by the yeast of the Kingdom and live in a better world.
So the Kingdom of God, the ideas of Christianity and the Spirit and soul of Christ change everything. It's like yeast.
In the same passage that talks about yeast in Matthew 13, it talks about a mustard seed becoming a tree a huge tree. Once again, it's a little thing that becomes a hugely influential thing. Right?
So the next idea... I was talking about yeast, right? I want to talk to you a little bit about focusing on the root and not the fruit.
And if you were to come to the classroom where I teach my worldview class, we often draw on the board a huge tree with its branches. And then we put fruits on there and talk about the fruits that we see in society.
And usually people come up with things like murder, crime, theft and lying and cheating and harming your neighbor and all sorts of bad things, pollution, terrible traffic. And then I always challenge, hey, come up with some good fruits. Do you see some good things in your society?
But the purpose of the lesson is actually we get this tree on the board with all of these fruits. And when people want to change the tree, they want to change the fruit. What they do is they go and they try and cut off the bad fruit. But you know what happens? The tree just produces the same fruit again, because the whole genetics of the tree are wrong.
At the very root, the tree is producing bad fruit. So we need to basically plant new trees with a new root.
And I'm going to describe a visual that when you come to my class, you'll see on the board... But at the base has changed hearts and minds, starting with an individual level, but flowing to families and churches and communities.
Our hearts are changed when we're filled with the Holy Spirit and are born again in Christ, our minds are changed as we're renewed in our minds by the Word of God by His teachings. This begins to change our actions on an individual, family and local level.
Imagine it's like a pyramid going further up in the pyramid, families, businesses, local behavior, local loving one another practically, the training up of children that are the building blocks of society business.
This is all it starts at a local level. And as families and churches are changed and communities are changed, it begins to spread outwards, influence other communities and other communities see this.
I think back to back in a different era, part of the later 1800s and the 1900s, the United States was in a very real way, a city on a Hill.
We were a city on a Hill, and people were looking towards the United States and writing their Constitutions, like the United States Constitution or trying to form their society the way that the United States was formed.
There was nobody being forced to do this at the barrel of a gun. This wasn't because the United States invaded them and said, now you must have a democracy. That's not how it worked. They saw the fruit here and said, we want some of that.
We see good things happening and we want it.
So as local communities and individuals and churches and neighborhoods become brighter places, they become cities on hills, others will see and their hearts will open to the gospel, and the gospel will reach into new communities.
The bigger and broader this gets, eventually you start to see whole nations change, and it even starts to seep into the political and civil government realm.
So I challenge you right now that you probably think about change coming primarily from politics, change comes primarily through the political realm. If we want to change, you got to vote for a new politician and send a new person to Washington, DC.
Well, I'm trying to tell you that whatever you see happening in national politics is the fruit of what has already been built. And if we continue to focus obsessively about trying to deal with that fruit that we don't like, we're going to continue to lose.
Because meanwhile, the secular humanist ideology has been taking over the schools, taking over the universities. Now we've noticed even taking over businesses and big business and the people that have money and power.
They've occupied all of these spaces. And what's happened is we're ringing our hands and pulling our hair and throwing dust into the air, saying, oh, no, it's the end of the world! What's going on?
And then we make one or two mistakes. We either go straight to the fruit and try and vote them all out of office, not realizing that maybe the base of people to vote them out is gone.
But if we've gotten to the point where we need to vote evil out, we're already way behind.
We have to get back to the basics. If we want to have a Christian country, we got to build a Christian family in a Christian neighborhood and a Christian Church and a Christian community.
And we've got to do it by changing the people, because that which flows to the top is the result. It's the fruit.
Whoever we've got as President, we probably deserve it.
So I was having a discussion online with someone about Afghanistan. All the military training in the world does not cause someone to have the force of will and courage and energy to defend their homeland.
People lay down their lives and defend their own people and their own family because they believe something on a deep enough level that they're willing to die for it.
It's like a character, core level thing. There is no way any level of military training can create that.
This kind of heart and soul comes from centuries of Christian development. That's where it comes from. The ability to withstand evil, even when there's consequences on ourselves comes from centuries of Christian development.
So I hope I'm giving you something to think about.
Just to kind of review it a little bit:
I talked about how change happens internal to external, smaller to greater local to broader.
It happens from service and laying down our lives, serving one another, not primarily by power.
It happens like yeast where changed hearts and minds over time eventually filled the whole dough.
So even if they're still bad apples, so to speak, in society overall, the more the yeast, the better the bread will be.
We talked about how we need to change the root to get to the fruit.
We need to change it on a core, basic level.
So I hope these thoughts have challenged you, and maybe given you a little understanding of why 20 years of humanist force, government based activity was not able to change Afghanistan and that kind of thing never will.
Just another side note, India was changed by the presence of the British, some in some ways, for the better.
Some of my Indian friends will agree. Some will disagree. I think most of them will see us at least sort of true, but it was the missions aspect that brought good things to India, not being controlled and dominated by another country.
It was the Christian influence that did that.
So I hope these thoughts encourage you, help you understand what's going on in your world and give you some ideas about what to do next in your life. To be the change to be the Victorious Kingdom Ambassador. We are the Ambassadors of Change.
If you want hope and change, look to the ambassadors, the Victorious Kingdom Ambassadors that's you and me.
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Thank you again and I look forward to talking to you next week. Jon Davis, Your fellow Victorious Kingdom Ambassador and the Gospel of Everything Podcast signing off.
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Listen to the episode here: https://gospelofeverything.com/podcast/how-change-happens