rev·o·lu·tion revəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/ noun
a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.
How did Jesus start a revolution — or should I say — the revolution?
How did a band of about 120 disciples of Jesus go from hiding in a room with the doors locked to turning the world upside down?
So often, I’ve been obsessed with what the men and women did in the book of Acts while skipping over why they did what they did. I’ve been reading the book by Simon Sinek, Start With Why.1 Let’s just say it has been challenging. I’m looking at the apostles, and myself, in a whole new light.
What was the apostles’ why? Why did the world get turned upside down? Why did people walk into repentance and get baptized at alarming rates?
We get stoked on a 10 percent rate of increase in church attendance while on the very first day of the church, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the number of believers went from 120 to about 5,120. That’s like a 4,000 percent increase!
Some people, namely the original 120, really, genuinely believed. That belief was heard and acted upon to the point where the people in the crowd at Pentecost said, “What must we do?!”
And the response was mass baptism and repentance. Why, then, did these 120 believe so deeply?
Because a dead man became a living man. That same power of the living Man was poured out onto and into these 120 followers of Jesus at Pentecost. Literally, the same life flowed through their bodies that flowed through Christ.
I want that! People will believe that. I want that why. I want a living Jesus, not one I must manipulate people to meet or convince them of His reality.
The thing with living people is they tend to turn up or show up and, most definitely, act out.
So, how do you start a revolution?
You overthrow the system of death and replace it with a system of life. You come back from the dead and then share the same power that accomplished the defeat of death with your followers.
Why follow Jesus?
Why read my Bible?
Why become a part of a group of believers?
Why does the Sermon on the Mount matter?
He’s alive. Why repent? He’s alive.
Why be baptized?
Why share the gospel with everyone you possibly can?
Why be filled with the Holy Spirit?
Why make disciples?
dis·ci·ple dəˈsīpəl/ noun
a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.
You’ll notice above that the Webster’s definition of disciple states, “during his life.” Well, I see what you tried to do there, Webster, but He’s alive!
A living Jesus is our reason. In order to perpetuate this revolution, we must carry that same life in us – the life of the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit. Ask God to baptize you with the Holy Spirit consistently for a week and see what happens.
Now, how do you start a religion?
You lose your living Savior. His life becomes an idea just short of your reality. Then you start to manipulate into programs, routines, ritual, and argument because, when the why is gone, there is only manipulation left.
Here are some blaring examples of manipulation when the why goes out the window. You’ll notice that businesses use the same names of the types stolen from Simon Sinek:2
“All you have to do is say a prayer”—Cost reduction
“Pray this prayer and you’ll be rich”—Aspiration
“Read your Bible and you’ll be a better person”—Aspiration
“If you don’t come to this, you’ll get a phone call or a text”—Fear
“Listen to this new song/podcast”—Novelty
“Guest speaker today!”—Promotion
These things aren’t inherently wrong, except for a couple of them. I’ll let you and the Almighty decide which ones those are. But if you use this as your approach to discipleship, you are on a hamster wheel of disappointment — almost guaranteed.
When the why is genuine, the outcome will be genuine action.
People respond to that. They’ll wait in line for that.
They’ll fill a house to the point where there is no room for that. Note the ministry of Jesus. Just look at the result of Jesus’ work in Mark 1:29–34:
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Ask yourself this question: Why am I doing this Christianity thing? Let the Holy Spirit and the Word lead you. It might change everything. It just might provoke you to something radical that results in violent action — violence that takes the Kingdom by force — and that, in turn, will bring revolution.
This is an excerpt from the book, The Way of the Violent: An Urgent Message to the Christian Man, to be released on January 23, 2021.
Parker Green is the co-founder of Salt Churches, which are micro-churches that focus on two things: salvation and a life of discipleship. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Jessi, and their two sons, David and Ethan.