So I have to ask. Have any of your pastors paused for a moment “during church” to pray for the evil of the moment? Has anyone, as the shepherd of the flock, given Godly instruction on how to prepare for the days we are living in? I am not talking fear and panic, or blissfully vague. I’m talking about instructions on how to stand in the power and authority of our Risen King and how to defend and diffuse the attacks on our country, family and faith.
Now more than ever, we don’t need to look to the government to rescue us. Yes they should— according to our Constitution. Will they? That remains to be seen. But the government is not our Savior. Now more than ever, people need to see the Church rise up in confident faith in the God who is and was and is to come. We must wake up. Stand up and lead. We must be the agents of peace and His divine Grace.
I am concerned that the church is, collectively, more focused on:
- Distractions about buildings, budgets, and attendance
- Criticisms about other Christians who may not be doing church in the same way, or are even “heretical” in their view
- Programs and entertainment within our “four walls”
- Territories, turf wars, and who gets the credit.
There seems to be a general confusion on what it means to be a Christ follower and still defend your family. The unasked questions hover in an uncomfortable way— “Is it Christian to protect yourself and family from harm, or, does ‘turning the other cheek’ apply here?” Can I love Muslims in the name of Jesus and still want stop ISIS? What’s more, there is an odd denial that our children could ever be at risk of murder just for claiming the name of Jesus.
Please hear me. I am compelled by a Holy Roar that we must walk in the Truth we have been given. To do that we must rightly frame our lives from God’s perspective and prepare accordingly.
Nothing New Under the Sun, And Yet
ISIS is driven by the same murderous spirit that has roamed the earth from the beginning. But it still is the very real evil of our day. So what are going to do about it? What is the church preparing for? Is our goal only salvation of souls— so that when we get killed we will all go to heaven? Is that it?
I hope not.
All through history God raised up mighty warriors who did the unthinkable: faced unspeakable odds in remarkable times. Let me refresh your memory.
- The Hebrew Children in Egypt.
- People of the Catacombs.
- Corrie Ten Boom.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
- Present Day Children in Iraq and Syria.
- And so many more…
All of these people were just like us. No more. No less. And when evil invaded their realities they had the same fear, same faith, same need for God to show up Big on their behalf. And He did. We do well to review their stories of faith and might as we face the very real darkness and danger.
Faith in Action
One striking thing about each of these heroes of the our faith is that they took action. Risky, costly, prayer-filled action. So can we!
- What if churches and their leaders organized a community prayer time? Opened the doors, linked arms, invited all denominations in and prayed for the peace of God to rule and to guide in these days. What if we offered our non-religious community a place of rest and comfort?
- What if churches and their leaders stopped every Sunday to speak the name of Jesus over the slaughter and destruction? I mean actually deviate from the “agenda” to acknowledge the issues. I often pray for the worldwide church during worship on Sunday mornings because I know many churches all over the country are meeting. So what if we all collectively commanded the darkness to flee?
- What if churches and their leaders talked about martyrdom and what it is and How it is? I remember hearing stories from China and Romania who have and still suffer from extreme persecution. One pastor said, “persecution is good for the church.” How so?
Because we tend to shed access baggage when our lives are on the line. Boiling your whole life’s worth down to one person, Jesus, makes things incredibly simple. Jesus plus nothing. Are we leading this radical life as churches?
I wonder when does “something” become important enough to interrupt “our regularly scheduled program.” Are we even remembering our fallen brothers and sisters at all?
I wonder are we so busy “protecting our children from upsetting news” that we are not preparing them to stand? You can be sure that parents in war zones are telling their children life and death reality. Children are dying just because they love Jesus. How will our children stand if they don’t even know?
God Is Working Always
I would like to offer some thoughts God has given to me as I have been interceding. I have poured out my heart and said, “Father, how do we walk in these days? How do we advance the Kingdom instead of hiding in fear?” These are things He has revealed to me.
1) Prepare to be generous. Every time there is a crisis, fear drives people to do crazy things. So stock up and prepare to share your blessings. Whether that is faith or food, peace or shelter, be ready to give from your abundance.
2) Prepare to be courageous. God is still on His Throne therefore we walk in a bold hope and confidence. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing the brave thing even though you are afraid. Now is the time speak up and speak out about the heinous acts we are witnessing. It’s not someone else’s problem to fix. It’s ours.
3) Prepare to be heard. God has established a governmental system. So we need to call and email our Senators and Representatives. They need to hear from us that we expect them to do the right thing. Often Christians abdicate civil duties because they don’t like who is in office. Do it anyway. Remember? Of the people, by the people, for the people.
4) Prepare to be well loved. Over and over, Jesus said, ‘never will I leave you.” God has been faithful to every generation and He will be faithful to us as well. Look for His Goodness and His Protection in the smallest of ways. He loves us with an everlasting love and I think if we talked to those who have walked through these horrible situations, we would hear that “they overcame the accuser by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” God will meet us in our need.
Sisters and Brothers, let us shake off complacency and comfort zones. We must rise up. Pray without ceasing. Encourage your pastors. , Call your elected officials. Talk to your children. Love God in all circumstances. Love your enemies. Amen and Amen.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…” Matthew 24