Regime change from the outside in doesn’t seem to have much to commend it. Western attempts to force such change in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya led to long drawn-out conflicts costing many thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Clearly Putin wasn’t paying attention. He thought he could buck the trend with a swift toppling of Ukraine but has instead found himself in the same quagmire of a costly and interminable conflict. Surely the lesson should be learned that regime change is best left alone.
Ironic then that Jesus taught his followers to pray for just such a change: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done’. If we’re asking for God’s kingdom to come, then clearly some other kingdom has got to fall. The prayer is as revolutionary and subversive as they come.
It turns out that regime change is not bad in and of itself. What really counts is whether the incoming regime is an improvement on what’s being replaced. The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel explains the change God requires with this divine promise, ‘I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh and move you to follow my decrees and keep my laws’. Now that’s a regime change worth longing for.