The unrest in a number of Arab countries is continuing with no end currently in sight. It started in Tunisia only a couple of months ago and soon spread to Egypt. Now the presidents of both countries have been ousted.
Subsequently, the opposition to authoritarian rule has spread to Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Algeria and Iran. Other nations that could soon find themselves in the same situation are Morocco, Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
It is utterly amazing that oppressed people have suddenly realised that they have power to overthrow governing systems that a few months ago appeared to be invincible.
Of course, none of this is without cost. Sadly, many people have been injured and some have paid with their lives. The problem is that the types of government that the people are fighting have always used fear and violence to keep control and they have no other answers to what is happening.
Perhaps some governments may be able to suppress the uprisings in their countries by harsh repressive measures but such tactics cannot be long term. When a population can see what has been achieved in neighbouring countries, it is only a matter of time before they do the same.
So what is it that these people are demonstrating for and for which they are even willing to lay down their lives. It can hardly be democracy since few of the people have much experience or knowledge of the democratic form of government.
A far more likely explanation is that people simply want “good government”, that is fair, just and honest. They want government that sees everyone as being of equal value, that doesn’t exploit the people and isn’t corrupt. The actual structure of such a government is of secondary importance.
We have yet to see if any of these countries achieve the freedoms they so desperately want. If some do, then their freedom may only last until yet another despot comes along who is clever enough to commandeer power over the people once again.
Jesus put His finger on the problem when He talked about the kind of leadership that He wants to see. Mark records the principle of leadership that Jesus taught:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
In other words, what Jesus taught was exactly what the people in these Arab states are seeking. They want rulers whose first priority is the good of the people rather than their personal desires for power, authority and wealth.
Unfortunately, because of human nature, there are not many such rulers around. Those who would lead in the way Jesus described must first be radically changed in a way that turns their ambitions and priorities upside down. True Christian conversion does exactly that. It happens when God’s Holy Spirit transforms men and women deep within their hearts. The change that comes about is so profound that it is like starting life all over again but living for others instead of thinking only about themselves.
Such people have a dramatic impact in every walk of life, including national leaders and we need to be praying for the Arab nations and for our own nation that we will be led by such people of integrity.