The Stones Will Shout Out

When I became a U.S. citizen, I was filled with great excitement and hope for this great nation. I was convinced that we have a great government system that was designed to ensure the balance of power, the rule of law, and the freedom of press to keep the leaders accountable.

However, recently I have come across some information that is somewhat disheartening, starting with watching the documentary movie, “Inside Job,” which tells the story of what led to the market crash in 2008, which carries on into the current recession. I also came across a program put together by John Stossel called “Freeloaders,” telling how some Americans are freeloading at different levels of life, and how those at the top are freeloading big time.

It seems that God is revealing something to me by having the similar information funneled to me from various sources. The conclusion is that our system is corrupt. How did it happen? If our system is setup to keep the power balanced and people accountable, then how did it end up corrupt? The answer is the temptation of money. It is a very powerful temptation because we are not talking about a few thousand dollars, but hundreds of millions of dollars flooded over our system like a tsunami that hardly anyone could resist. It is the financial sector of our country that has corrupted our system. In other words, at the moment Wall Street is running our country.

Up to this point, starting with the market crash in 2008, not a single top financial executives or financial firm has been prosecuted for their securities fraud and accounting fraud that led to the bubble. All executives left their positions with their golden parachute with hundreds of millions of dollars in bonus. In 2009, when the unemployment rate is the highest, Morgan Stanly paid out 14 billion dollar in bonus, and Goldman Sack, 16 billion. In 2010 this amount was even bigger according to the report. Obviously, we haven’t made any necessary correction to prevent repeating what just happened.

The most chilling news is that this money power has already eaten deep into our system and there is no way to recover from it. It’s possible that this recession might lead to a total collapse, like what happened to the Roman Empire. I am too optimistic to think so, but I am just listening to the experts. According to some of them, it’s possible that this recession might lead to a much more serious disaster down the line.

It’s quite an awakening moment for me these past weeks because it explodes one of my bubbles—thinking that we have the best of the best system in the world to keep us from sinking. It’s like hearing the news of the unsinkable Titanic that went down. It’s an exploding of an idolatry on a government system. I am sure none of us admittedly idolize our government system, but our actions speak louder than words. We do take refuge in our system and feel proud of it. We can test it out by asking this question: When we sing God Bless America, do we sing it with God at the center of America, or with America at the center of our God? God surely has blessed America, and will continue to do so only if we continue to put God at the center of our hearts. The current recession should make us seriously evaluate our situation because according to what I have learned lately it looks like Wall Street has become the center of America and the Golden Calf of America.

Now there is an even stronger urgency to fulfill the Great Commission. Not that we haven’t been taking actions. We have been feeding the poor, relieving disasters, and speaking up for justice. But, now we have a bigger responsibility because we have to transform our society by shouting out, “Hosanna!” It’s because what we heard and what we saw and what we read in the news says God’s name is being insulted. Our society has belittled God by our unloving actions. The atmosphere around us is demanding a shout of “Hosanna!” because God deserves to be honored. God deserves to be glorified.

John wrote in his Gospel, “The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)

You know the first century Israel was somewhat like the direction we are heading. The leaders were corrupted by the lust of power and wealth. They kissed up to the Roman authority to keep their positions secure, even though they don’t like them—maybe the Roman Empire was like their Wall Street. The rich became richer and the poor became poorer. It was a society in which God’s name was belittled by the leaders of the society, both religious and political.

Anyone that has some intention of overturning the government or even speaking up against the actions of the authority was seriously punished or silenced—like the way John the Baptist was beheaded. Now the religious leaders were trying to silence Jesus by plotting to kill him because they couldn’t stand his stirring of their God-belittling comfort zone. It was in this already tense situation that the crowd shouted out “Hosanna!” and proclaimed that Jesus was the King of Israel. They all could have been arrested and punished for doing so. They held palm branches in their hands as symbol of victory, and put their garments on the ground for Jesus’ donkey to walk on as a symbol of welcoming a king.

This incident was recorded in all four Gospels. It was also prophesied in the Old Testament that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem like this.

The Pharisees pushed themselves through the crowd and asked Jesus to tell them to shut up. Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these people were silent, the stones would shout out.” This statement tells a lot about the spiritual atmosphere of the society of the first century Israel. God’s name has been dishonored by their actions and God’s glory has been silenced by them to the extent that if these poor and powerless people were silent, the stones will shout out, the mountains will bow down, and the seas will roar!

Christians today needs to shout “Hosanna!” because God’s glory has been silenced on the streets by the corrupt and crooked. Jesus showed us that the only way to transform this world is the reign of God. Even though most people in the crowd shouting hosanna was thinking that Jesus was to become the King of Israel, a physical kingdom, Jesus’ real intention was to bring the reign of God, a spiritual kingdom, to the entire world.

Jesus said in front of Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” So his main teaching is not about the worldly matters, but the spiritual matters. The kingdom of God, according to Jesus Christ is not a realm but a reign. It means that those who belong to his kingdom are those who live as if they are the citizens of God’s kingdom. As Christians we have two citizenship—the temporal citizenship of a country on earth and the eternal citizenship of the eternal Kingdom of God.

Now the question is how does that change the world? How can it change America? John Maxwell wrote a book a few years ago after he was asked by the reporters to talk about business ethics. It was at the time when Enron was exposed of fraud and corruption, so the journalists interviewed the leadership guru asking him to reflect on business ethics. Maxwell said, “There is no such thing as business ethics.” That somewhat surprised the interviewers, and he continued, “There is only ethics.” You either have it or you don’t. If you have it, it will be reflected in your business, and if you don’t, it just doesn’t matter.

This is why I think proclaiming the reign of God is important. If you are a citizen of the Kingdom of God, you let God reign on you and your ethics will be dictated by your spiritual citizenship. If you don’t belong to the Kingdom of God, it doesn’t matter. You might be just another Judas Iscariots. Judas was not an exception. The eleven other disciples were exceptions. Judas was what you and I might have been without the reign of God in our lives. Judas was part of the inner circle but he was actually an outsider. He was so close and so far away. He was chosen to be a disciple but his life is not under God’s reign. He has been in the kingdom but he was not a citizen. How many people today are in the Kingdom of God, carrying the name of Christian, but not spiritually the citizen of the Kingdom?

If we don’t proclaim the reign of God, our society will be ruled by a bunch of Judas. They will take us to the swamp, and we will be swallowed by the mud and our blood would be sucked up by the leeches.

How do you know that you live under the reign of God? The Kingdom of God doesn’t have a passport, but its citizens are identified by the fruit they bear. This is exactly what our church is focusing on. You know that you are reigned by God when you bear the fruit of the Spirit because being reigned by God is being in the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” So those who are in the reign of God shall bear the fruit of the Spirit. Their lives should be seen full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

Can you imagine what our lives as a church would be like if everyone of us lives every minutes of our lives in the Spirit? Can you imagine if our government is filled with people like this, that they serve the country with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Can you imagine what the Wall Street people would use their money for with these motives?

We are not talking about imposing a religion in our government. Jesus didn’t come to impose a religion to anybody. In fact, he never intended to start another religion. He wasn’t even a Christian! He came to teach and proclaim the reign of God. His message transcends religions because, as Paul said, there is no law against the fruit of the spirit. The reign of God transcends laws, politics, and religions.

Don’t worry about the future, just live in the reign of God and proclaim the reign of God. John said, “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (John 12:15) The best way to prevent our civilization from collapsing is that you proclaim the reign of God. If you want to change the world, this is the only way to change the world—proclaim the reign of God.

I like the closing verse 19, “The Pharisees then said to one another, ‘You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!’” Are the Pharisees prophesying unknowingly? That’s right, they could do nothing. This is our future, “the world has gone after him!” Jesus wants us to proclaim the reign of God so that this future will become a reality. So, let us make our lives an exclamation, “Hosanna! Thy Kingdom come!”


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Cultivate Your Life

Only a cultivated life becomes fruitful, only a fruitful life glorifies God, and only a God-glorifying life is worth living!" ~ Sam Stone

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