There’s more to revolutions than meets the eye. Journalist Barbara von der Heydt, a television correspondent in Germany in 1991, reported on the peaceful revolution that undermined the Soviet Union. As she interviewed people throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, she came to a startling conclusion. The most overlooked part of the story, she realized, was the nature of the crisis: “It was a moral and spiritual revolution,” von der Heydt later wrote. “It was not simply a clash of political realms; it was a clash of moral realms that triggered a political earthquake. Indeed, the conflict began long before 1989 as a revolution of the spirit in individuals who exposed the moral poverty of communism and rejected it. Christian involvement in the revolution was not peripheral; it was central. Key Christians provided moral leadership.”
Von der Heydt went on to explain that the real revolutionaries were “protesters gathered under the roofs of the churches … armed only with Bibles.”1 Behind the headlines were thousands of praying Christians, who over the decades had drawn courage from the Lord to withstand persecution and to subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, obtain promises, and proclaim the Gospel of freedom.
That’s what we see in the book of Acts, and that’s what we see today. Every follower of Christ is a soldier of the Cross. We’re defenders of the faith and change agents in the world. Amid the evils of the age, you and I must gather under the roofs of our churches armed with our Bibles, intent on turning the world upside down.
Perhaps you’ve never thought of yourself in those terms. The word revolutionary is a daring term to use for oneself. But at its core, revolution is simply change, which is what Christianity is about. A revolution occurs within those who enthrone a new King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Life comes under new governance. As that happens in one person after another, the effect on society is inevitable.
The little boy wasn’t far off who said we should read and obey our Bibles from Genesis to Revolutions. Using God’s Word and the power of its message, we can change this world, but it begins in us. The revolution always starts in the same place—within each of our own hearts. It’s easy to want to see change in others, but true change begins with the person in the mirror.
Reese Kauffman, president of Child Evangelism Fellowship, often says, “In our organization, the person I have the most trouble with is the man who sits in the chair behind my desk.” He’s speaking for us all, isn’t he? While we lament the condition of the world and often notice the failures of others, it’s vital for us to search our own hearts, spot our own faults, and constantly ask the Lord to continue the construction process He’s begun in our hearts.
How do we do that?
1. Evaluate Areas That Are Failing
First, evaluate areas in your life that seem to be failing. These aren’t usually hard to spot; they’re often painfully obvious. Perhaps your mind is strained by anxiety or stained by lust. Maybe covetousness is contributing to credit card debt. Maybe your anger toward someone has damaged a relationship. Maybe you have an unresolved grief in your life, or you’re overbooked, resulting in spasmodic church attendance. What if your lazy streak is acting up, and you’re not diligent at work anymore? Maybe you’ve become depressed. It’s hard to keep our lives well regulated, and we must constantly be honest with ourselves about areas needing attention. Don’t let things fester. Decide to deal with them today.
2. Ask God to Show You What to Do
For believers, this kind of self-evaluation leads to prayer. Psalm 139 marvels at how thoroughly God knows our strengths and weaknesses, our days and moments, our thoughts and motives. As the psalmist David contemplated the omniscience of the Lord, he composed a petition at the end of the Psalm: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
That’s a prayer we can adopt whenever we need to change something about ourselves. Our lives don’t improve simply by turning over a new leaf. The true revolution of Christ requires overthrowing strongholds. It’s a spiritual work accomplished within us by the Holy Spirit. He longs to perfect what concerns us, so ask God for help and guidance.
3. Sit Down and Develop a Revolutionary Strategy
Next, sit down and develop a strategy. For example, you might schedule an hour or so at a coffee shop for an appointment with yourself. Take a notepad. Order your coffee or tea, pull out a pad of paper, and begin jotting down changes you could make to some neglected area of life. Let’s say, for example, you’ve realized you have a habit you want to break. Habits are stubborn. They are ingrained patterns that often become addictive, but with God’s grace and guidance you can replace bad habits with healthy ones. We know it’s possible. Our Lord specializes in sanctification. He generates it, but we must “work out” our salvation as God “works in” us (Philippians 2:12).
Think about a strategy. How can you bring yourself to commitment? Are there people who can help you? Are there books you can read? Are there steps you can take? Are there places you should avoid?
It’s amazing how helpful it is to commit to a simple written plan—your own prayerful, powerful revolutionary strategy. A revolution often starts with a resolution—not the January kind, but a consecrated resolve to let the Lord change something about us. Reducing it to writing makes the process more tangible and certain.
4. Adopt the Changes Onto Your Calendar
Fourth, you must adopt the changes onto your calendar, for true change almost always means some modification of our daily routines. If you want to start getting up earlier for your morning devotions, when should you go to bed the night before? If you want to make time for dates with your spouse or children, how do those translate to your calendar? If you want to resolve a difficult issue with a friend, make that appointment. If you want to start leading a Bible study, rearrange your weekly agenda to make room for it. If you want to break an addiction, is there a Christian support group you can attend? The Bible tells us to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:16). To change a pattern in life, it takes both time and time management.
5. Develop a Treasury of Bible Verses
Fifth, develop a war chest of Bible verses. Only the words of Scripture are powerful enough to bring change to our lives! Only by hiding God’s Word in our hearts can we avoid sinning against the Lord. If you need a personal revolution in your attitudes, search out Bible verses on love, joy, and peace. If you need to overcome worry, find verses about trusting God and post them where you can see them through the day. Become as familiar with those verses as with your own address and phone number. Meditate on them while you drive, shower, and exercise. The Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word) is the best weapon for staging a revolt against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
6. Recruit Reinforcements
Sixth, recruit reinforcements. The apostle Paul, who never lost his revolutionary spirit, constantly surrounded himself with friends and coworkers who could encourage him. Find someone with whom you can be honest. Find a small group to encourage you. Ask certain friends to pray with you. Surround yourself with fellow believers who will strengthen your faith.
Finally, don’t give up. Change is hard to sustain. Modifying your lifestyle and changing your habits is like rewiring a house, but don’t be shocked—you can do it if you make up your mind. Proverbs 24:16 says, “A righteous man may fall seven times and rise again.”
Revolution starts with you and your determination. Perhaps it’s time for a change in an area of your life. Ask God for guidance, direction, and strength to follow through; and press on to victory. Remember Romans 8:37: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Our Revolutionary Redeemer has already won the victory.
1Barbara von der Heydt, Candles Behind the Wall (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), xiii-xiv.