Just Thinking Out Loud
North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing grass-roots, citizen-driven political upheavals that have seemingly come from nowhere. Supposedly iron-clad regimes are simply being tested over the entire region. Without a doubt, we are seeing the emergence of a growing reality: the power of social media. However, to claim that Twitter or Facebook was the only thing missing for this kind of revolution to occur would be delegating too much causal clout, although the amazing reality of the speed with which powerful social media has driven these events is stunning. Multiple facts have converged into a "fullness of time" scenario that is truly amazing to watch. Three weeks of protest in Egypt brings down a 30-year military band regime and similar movements preceded Egypt in Tunisia with new hotspots in Libya, Yemen, and Bahrain. It almost seems like the 1960's art form of protest has been reincarnated throughout the world.
The surprise these protest movements has elicited, even among the most seasoned world observers, is amazing to behold. Just three months ago, the global headlines that are currently changing hourly would have been inconceivable. I hope that followers of Jesus will be discerning enough to realize that this current upheaval cannot be entirely explained even by the most experienced pundits. Isaiah 40:23 describes a factor that has to be added to our analysis: "He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing." We have a history of missing windows of opportunity for the gospel. For example, our sluggishness in responding to the fall of the Iron Curtain was an unfortunate miscue, largely caused by a predominating belief that it was improbable that the gospel could ever again be preached in the USSR and its satellite countries. That overriding unwillingness to recognize the inexorable redemptive mission of Christ seemingly forgot that not even the gates of hell could resist the inevitability of Christ's Kingdom.
Could it be we are facing a 21st century version of our Cold War frozenness? When we think of the harsh and often violent consequences of taking the gospel to certain peoples and regions, could it be that we may have a similar case of spiritual myopia that followers of Jesus exhibited back in the 1980s?
I am neither na´ve nor overly sentimental, but I was just thinking ...
Remember over the past Christmas season, when all over the American nation-and even globally-random groups surprised shoppers with the spontaneous singing of the "Hallelujah Chorus"? Could it be that God was actually giving us a wakeup call that in the most unlikely places (malls-cathedrals of market consumption) His declaration of Lordship over the nations was being pronounced-Good news to all the people. Frankly, I am thinking--something's up--it's astounding--who would have believed it? But could it be that we are seeing God's redemptive saga again jumpstart a new effort to reach the sons and daughters of Ishmael, just when our hearts are yet filled with anxiety and even anger toward this growing global religious reality?
Maybe the words from Jehovah God to the ancient prophet Habakkuk are fitting for today (Habakkuk 1:5) "Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed--For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told." Is it just mere coincidence that the spontaneous declaration of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in American malls this past Christmas has been followed by the unthinkable political upheaval in the most unlikely places on earth?.
Maybe I am out on a limb with my observations (I suppose that my analysis wouldn't make it on CNN, Fox News, BBC, or Al Jazeera). I simply believe that something so unexpected, which has occurred in such an accelerated manner, requires more than the predictable responses of pundits and other talking heads. Followers of Jesus need some sense of wonder at the fact that there is more to this set of events than the painful reality of higher gas prices. Even the laudable desire, that the minimal privileges of democracy should be universal experiences for all people, cannot capture the true significance of what is going on right now.
How often have we reminded God that the situations are impossible? We look at the political, social, and economical logjams around the world and query God about where He is in the middle of all this obvious chaos. The crumbling of structures that have strangled the sense of destiny for countless millions of people is just as unlikely as the singing of the "Hallelujah Chorus" in a mall. I think every valley is being exalted (Isa. 40:2) and the people who have walked in darkness are seeing a great light (Isa. 9:2). The Lord God Omnipotent is reigning. This is a time for the followers of Jesus to be more than avid observers of world events, but obedient participants in the grand saga of redemption that will conclude with people from every tribe, tongue, and nation singing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5:9-12).
Byron D. Klaus