October 23, 2006 • By Ed Wrather
Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?" - Acts 23:1-3.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. - 2 Corinthians 5:17.
As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. - 2 Peter 1:3.
They are painting the town pink in Aurangabad, India. Why? It is an attempt to encourage the people and an attempt to improve their quality of life. The town has been overrun with criminal activity including inter-caste wars, extortion, kidnapping, and murder. There are two million people living in the city in the Indian state of Bihar, which is one of the poorest in India, and their morale has been severely degraded because of the increasing violence.
It could be that painting the town pink may help with the crime problem. Painting over gang graffiti in the United States has been helpful in reclaiming gang-infested areas and preventing continued criminal activity. It has also improved the morale of the community. One sheriff department website has this statement about graffiti, "ALWAYS paint over graffiti immediately or call an agency which will paint it free for you. Research done in California shows that areas that are immediately painted over are much less likely to be 'hit' again. Graffiti that is left up becomes a status symbol."
Does painting over the graffiti or painting a whole town actually solve the problem? It may help but the problem is much deeper. The apostle Paul referred to the high priest Ananias as being a "whitewashed wall." What did that mean? It meant that Ananias may have been wearing religious garments but he was still dirty inside - he still acting in a sinful way.
What if you were to take someone that has been living on the streets all their lives, someone who has survived through criminal activities - you can take them and clean them up, put them into new clothes and a new home. Would their criminal activities cease? It is very unlikely that their nature would be changed just because you gave them new clothes and a new home. In other words, you "whitewashed" them. It is unlikely because there is a deeper problem than what you see on the outside. It is a spiritual problem that must be dealt with if you want to really see a lasting change.
When there is a move of God in a community (a revival), there will be a decrease in sinful activities. This has been seen many times in the past. When the evangelist Billy Sunday came to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania it upset the saloon (bar) owners because their business dropped by 40 to 70 percent. Cab drivers were upset too because those wanting cab rides to the red light district had virtually ceased. In the 1905 Wales revival, the move of God caused public drunkenness stopped, stolen goods were returned and the police had nothing to do. In 1972, a revival that had begun in Canada overflowed into Mansfield, Ohio. There a store manager was puzzled because as he said in response to a woman paying for merchandise that she had not been charged for but should have been, "Something is going on in this town you’re the sixteenth person to come in and do the same thing." A businessman drove 500 miles to pay back customers he had overcharged. Young people hooked on drugs and alcohol were able to change and broken homes were healed. The same type of thing has occurred again and again when God intervenes in the hearts and lives of people and changes them from the inside out.
God can give a city or you the power to experience real and lasting change. As the apostle Peter says God has given to His children, "all things that pertain to life and godliness." When Jesus enters into a person’s life it changes everything, "he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." Just imagine the difference for that city in India that is being painted pink if the people there would turn to the One true God. Everything would become new, the old would pass away, and they would have real change, lasting change and not just some new paint.