Given the events of the past 24 hours, I wanted to take a moment to offer some encouragement and Lamentations 3:22-24 provides it.
I have heard many people say over the past day that this is a time when we should all be on our knees in prayer, and they are correct…to a point. We should really be on our knees in prayer all the time, in good times and bad. And, many people who are saying this are implying that we need to pray that America “turn back to God” and that the “right” political leaders be in power. However, we are commanded in Romans 13 to obey the governing authorities and are told that ALL authorities are in power because God alone put them there for His purposes. If Paul was telling first century Christians this as they were living under one of the most oppressive, non-Jewish, non-Christian governments in history (the Roman Empire) I can’t imagine we would be told otherwise today. We have the privilege to live in a society where each of us has a say in who will be in power, but ultimately it is God who grants governments power at all. God even lets powers that are not supportive of Him be in power to accomplish His purposes as He did when He allowed Assyria and Babylon to conquer and take into exile those who really were His chosen nation (read Isaiah and Jeremiah for confirmation of this). Here is what we should be praying for:
- That both individually and collectively Christians would recognize that America is NOT God’s country or chosen nation. God’s “nation” (Kingdom) is not an earthly one (John 18:36). The Republican Party is not God’s political party. In all His time on earth, Jesus said only one thing about the government and that is that we should all pay our taxes. He did not instruct us to support certain political factions or leaders. He did not instruct us to incite a revolution in the earthly government (though I believe there are circumstances that warrant revolution, I don’t believe we are currently in one of them in the United States). In fact, at His trial and sentencing under Pilate, the mob of Jesus’s day was so disappointed in the fact that He wasn’t there to revolt against the government that they demanded Pilate release to them Barabbas, who was a revolutionary against the Roman government, and kill the True King instead. We need to make sure we are not unwittingly doing the same by taking our focus off of following what Christ did command (that we love God and love people) and putting it on human “revolutionaries”.
- That idolatry would be exposed. There are many Christians who have gotten so caught up in politics they have unknowingly made it into an idol, believing that the right “king” in power is what God wants. We need to pray that those for whom this is true would recognize their error, confess their sin, and return to correct focus on the rightful King. God wants to be king of our lives and has from the beginning. He allowed Israel to have a king only because the people demanded it and we have seen the tragedy that has ensued for millennia where people have placed their hope in governments rather than God.
- That the Holy Spirit would shine a light on each individual’s heart so we can know if we are among the people in #2 and that we will respond correctly to His personal revelation to each individual about our part in this.
- That each of us would know the peace of God in our hearts no matter what is going on in the world around us.
- That each Christian would be a beacon of light to those around them. That we indeed would look and behave different than everyone around us and in doing so help win non-believers to Christ for their eternal benefit.