Sitting with my little family in our Sunday clothes; each freshly showered and perfumed and safe. Very Very Safe. And in apathy, we worship. Even though worship is a freedom that so many of our Christian brothers and sisters don’t enjoy, we struggle to find joy in it.
I felt the spirit in me yesterday morning in a way that I haven’t felt in a while. Tears fell as I heard about our sister church in Liberia and their need for basic supplies and food as a horrific virus sweeps their country, killing so many. And the Israel situation escalating among God’s chosen people, and ISIS who is killing so many innocent people, and targeting Christians. And, and, and… And then right here, one state away, riots are happening and a community is in upheaval, possibly the nation in upheaval. It all seems a bit too much and I can’t stop praying, “Jesus, I see the persecution, I see the evil, won’t you come. Come Quickly.”
I haven’t been apathetic to all that is going on. I’ve wanted to write a #goingthere post. To offer support and join the movement. It’s just hard to put words to how I feel, especially because it seems to have a different angle than many of the blog posts I’ve been able to read. I’ve started and deleted this post several times over the last week.
And then today, in the simplicity of one Facebook post, it came to me. One post that started –
“Will you pray with me, Our Father…”
And line by line we commented, and agreed. And for the first time in quite a while I felt a peace. This. This is what it looks like to be God’s people. It’s uniting together in prayer, regardless of the differences amongst us. It’s taking the 2: Chronicles 7:14 scripture and living it out in our daily lives with the classic IF – THEN statement.
“ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
We need to be humble and pray. Not just when it’s easy or convenient, but when it is really, really hard. God created us to be an emotional people, but often our emotions run ahead of our faith. How can we ensure that the two of them align better? Are we waiting for Jesus to lead us and the Holy Spirit to prompt us, or do we let our emotions take the forefront?
This post isn’t intended to be about race, although I certainly understand the concerns surrounding #Ferguson. It isn’t intended to be about economic class, although that seems to be a common thread in ALL of the tragedies happening. It isn’t about riots, and shootings or lootings, or whatever. It is about us as a people – As the Body of Christ.
How do we take a stand for what we feel is right or wrong, and do that in a way that honors God? How do we hit pause and look away from main stream media? (I have a long held belief that we only hear what they want us to hear, and having been misquoted and represented by media, tend to know I’m hearing only in part!) How do we look away from the things that this world would have us focus on and look to Jesus? How do we listen for the stirrings in our spirit that may be whispers when our emotions are screaming at us? How do we love our neighbor as ourselves when it may be our neighbor that is causing us so much unrest? How do we pray for the “enemy?” What does “Love” look like when the world doesn’t look like love? Let’s be honest, riots and looting and shootings, and beheadings and missiles and starvation don’t look like love. And it’s not. It’s pure evil. It’s the plan of the enemy and his scheme is working. The anger and the things we tell ourselves when we are emotionally charged, that’s not from Jesus. None of what stirs our emotions the most looks like love.
As a white, middle class Christian in a safe mid-western town, it’s easy for me to ask the questions. And I am a bit afraid of retaliation because of the lifestyle I live. I get it. I’m in a different place than much of what is happening in this world. But the same Jesus is alive in me. I don’t wish I was a different race or ethnicity so that I would understand better. God created me in his image, just like he created each and every one of us in his image, regardless of skin color or so many other factors. I want to be an image bearer, and love through differences.
My goal is to understand better because I’m seeking God’s wisdom through the Holy Spirit that lives in me. I’ll be honest, I’ve had to check my emotions over the last week, because at times I felt like because I wasn’t lashing out and joining in on the conversation, that I was looked at as being apathetic, or not caring. My reality is, that my emotions were so heightened that I didn’t dare. Instead, I waited for the Holy Spirit to move me, to guide me. Because that is where I was, waiting on the Lord.
And today, when I read the words of the Lord’s prayer, line by line, supported and commented and stated by so many of my Christian online friends, he moved in me. He said – this… yes this is what we need. More of this. More unity. More being able to have hard conversations about the things that are wrong with this world and more resolve to love in spite of the things that are wrong. I know, it seems so simple, and it’s not. But, I can’t look at any of the horrific things that are happening and say that love isn’t a solution. When we love someone, we are willing to look at it from a different perspective. If we love our enemy, with Christ like love, it might cause us to see them in a different light.
I’m using this as an example. I don’t know the man who shot in #ferguson, or the man who was killed. I do know that two families were changed forever on that day. I don’t know all the details, but I think it’s safe to say that the officer didn’t go to work that day thinking, “I should randomly kill a black man on the streets today.” Circumstances will never be known in full. However, both of these families are grieving. If it was my son who was shot, I would undoubtedly want answers. If it were my husband or son who pulled the trigger, I would undoubtedly support them and say there had to be a reason. Where are the stories we aren’t hearing about? Where are their church families? Or the peaceful protestors? They are there. I can’t imagine that prayer vigils aren’t happening. What about the impact on the members of the community that have worked to integrate. How are they standing together and linking arm and arm, regardless of color? My heart and spirit wants to believe that is happening. How do we dig up these stories and tell them? How do we as Christians model an example that shows the world, there is another way? In the midst of chaos, how do we model biblical behavior?
In the words of a simple prayer, I saw it today. Unity. Unity across racial lines, and economic lines. If we turn our eyes to Jesus, all the problems won’t go away. In so many arenas’ long term solutions are hard. None of us as humans have the answers. But collectively, as a body, if we humble ourselves and pray, I can’t help but trust that Jesus will heal our land. IF…. Then! Come Lord Jesus Come!