What are you seeking?
For many around the world it has been a year of seeking a solution, a way out from the unending bad news. Pandemic fears have spiraled up and down, but never really left most of us in the world. News reports (often with flaws or incomplete information) have fed our anxiety. Just about the time it appears things might be improving we hear warnings about the season ahead and more reasons to be uncertain loom large again.
Beyond the illness itself, the fear and the isolation have brought about more searching and too often, more hopelessness. We have seen injustices of all types, persecution growing worldwide, and storms raging across the natural world destroying forests, fields, lives, and hope. Storms have also been raging within increasing division and hatred, violence and anarchy in places far and wide.
And what has been our response as individuals? What grade would you give yourself? My answer would vary and not be as stellar as I would like.
And why has this generation around the globe struggled so greatly with the challenges it faces? Certainly, many generations before us have faced challenges no less daunting and come out on the other side. Are we so accustomed to ignoring things we don’t like or that quick solutions will come that we have lost the capacity to endure?
Perhaps that is true. Many in the world live in the age of almost instant anything. We microwave our food, use instant messaging and see videos of the latest crime from someone’s phone before a news report with all the facts even is on air. We tend to be impatient people and I wonder if we are looking in all the wrong places for the thing we most want and need.
Those who came before us were simpler in many ways and we can be tempted to scoff at that, but it gave them an advantage. They were clearer on the need to look at a power greater than themselves and call on God. Is that because they saw themselves more accurately and humbled themselves by acknowledging that they did not have answers to what was besetting the world?
Have our churches too often fallen prey to following a program or structure that works while missing what is unfolding in the world around them and the role they are called to play?
Yes, we are called to serve, to feed the hungry, visit those in prison, pray for the sick, and love one another, but we are also admonished in the Bible to pray for those in authority over us both in church polity and civil governments as well. Have we forgotten the gift and power of prayer and how we are to be steadfast in using it?
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)
Paul’s words to Timothy were written in the time of the brutality of the Roman Empire and how much we might learn from what he exhorts the believers of that time.
We choose sides and look to men to solve problems that have escalated to a point where no human can resolve them. Too much hatred, fear, anger, resentment, pride, bias, self-righteousness, ignorance, and more fill our hearts and minds and feed division that causes hope to fade a bit more each day.
In days of old when a king faced such times he would call and ask if there was not a man who could hear from God to point the way when there appeared to be no way. In times gone by pulpits would be filled with a call for the church to repent for the sins that so easily beset us all. And if those words were heeded, revival would sweep through the land and sometimes around the world and for a time, mankind would remember he is not sovereign over the world except as God allows.
Men like Charles H. Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield’s voices (as well as others) called believers to account and called those who did not know God to the source of hope that kept them going during hard times. In more modern times Billy Graham filled stadiums around the world offering hope in Christ and a call to repent. And so many miss his voice, but this past weekend his son stepped into the place of his father and called for those who would, to come to Washington D.C. for a prayer walk around the nation’s capital seeking God to forgive us for the many ways we have forgotten the faith of those who came on the Mayflower to start this nation and to pray for the world.
It was a clarion call amplified by the shofar being blown by another group of believers God led to come to pray for the nation and world as well. It was a call to remember the Bible told us that “in the latter days” perilous times would come, but even as Christ told those who follow Him what to expect He also offered the path of light by urging us to repent and seek God above all others and be prepared to show his light to the world shrouded in darkness in such times.
In some places in the world persecution rivals ancient history for those who believe in God or do not accept the ideology of a leader or nation. Should we not take heed lest we fall as well?
No leader is perfect enough to lead perfectly save Christ alone, but no leader can serve well without the prayers of those he is to serve. There is no escape clause that says we are not to pray if we don’t prefer the person. It is not about nationalism in any country or denominationalism that we are called to pray, but rather about the sinfulness of mankind that still clings to us absent mercy and grace.
The voices calling for repentance as individuals, churches, and nations are growing louder. Will we listen? Will we recognize that it is a call to each one of us no matter what nation we live in, no matter what church we are a part of or even whether or not that church has responded to the call in this time?
Edward Mote penned these lyrics in 1834 as part of his well-known hymn. May they be true for each of us:
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”From My Hope is Built on Nothing Less