Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.…
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:1-2, 10
I’m not advocating for war of any kind and in fact am against that. To think through all of that as a committed Christ follower who because of that is committed to the way of nonviolence and peacemaking when considering the world at large is not easy. Surely apart from Christ followers, if there has to be violence of any kind, it ought to be only a last resort, and then as minimal as possible, and with the goal not of retributive, but restorative justice.
One can see in the foments of history that revolutions (American Revolutionary War) and revolutionary change doesn’t occur overnight. Although because of the fallout of all the harm done often measures have been put in place out of necessity, such as universal healthcare in Europe after the ravages of World War II, a needed sudden revolutionary change. But one more thing on violence: The only real needed revolution in any such scenario is that of ending it just as Christ did at the cross, God forgiving all the violence against Christ so that all violence would come to an end. Otherwise there will be cycles of violence (“Violence breeds violence.”), one group sore and seeking revenge years or even generations later because of the violence suffered at the hands of another group. When will the world at large quit justifying war and bloodshed? Surely the insanity of using weapons of mass destruction ought to awaken the world to the need of settling differences in a nonviolent way, the truly needed revolution. But alas! A mixed record.
But away from that overextended analogy, in our own lives, maybe say within our communities of faith during certain times, we may well become aware of the need for change, a revolution in becoming someone or something totally different than what we are. That is not going to occur overnight, though it actually will happen if we take the necessary steps and keep going through God’s grace and help.
But to get there we need to not sweep under the rug in some way by rationalizations or whatever, what wrong or deficiency has come to light. We need to cringe, confess it to God either ourselves if it’s personal, or together if it’s a sin or shortcoming within our community. The first turn around may seem small and inconsequential, but if we continue on the change over time, it will indeed become revolutionary.
In a penitent (“penance” so to speak), committed way, we continue on, come what may, through trials, temptations, set backs, yes even when we slip and fall in the same way as individuals or as community. We get up, brush ourselves off, acknowledge our wrong, and continue on the new path. Never seeing ourselves as anything less than sinners only in the sense that we are in the process of recovery from that. But committed to the new in what amounts to no less than the new creation in community and within ourselves, in formation in and through Jesus.