I’ve had to lay low all week, being sick. Here’s a thought that’s encouraged me early in the morning when I couldn’t sleep: 1 Timothy 2.1-2 is even more vital for the Christian when the people we are praying for are doing evil. Paul knew that. He wasn’t exactly talking about a righteous, Godly government either.
I’ve been sick, and that usually means a bleaker outlook anyway, but with the horrible updates and images coming out of Afghanistan this week, it’s felt especially bleak.
Those feelings need to drive me to the Lord more than they do, and to trust in him. Trusting in him can be so hard, but we certainly will never grow in that trust if we aren’t praying. Also, we won’t be able to stand confidently against the sin and evil that’s pressed on us if we haven’t spent the time with the Lord, praying. Prayer precedes action.
This is what was on my mind. We are called to pray:
When they demand acceptance for sin by redefining the word tolerance.
When they cry “Science!” and then call men women, and women men. And demand we do too.
When they say they care about women while forcing them to allow men into their bathrooms and their sports. When they mistreat and abuse women themselves, and even brag about it or cover it up. Also, when a country full of women are now going to be abused and enslaved by terrorists but they congratulate themselves as champions of women and the oppressed.
When something happens as egregious and callously evil as the handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal has been.
When they encourage and celebrate the murder of babies in the wombs. And yet, again, claim to care about the weak and oppressed.
When they admit no errors and cover sin and evil up.
When they are arrogant and full of pride.
When they have one standard for themselves, and a different one for everyone else.
When everyone seems fearful, angry or both.
When racial tensions have been used, magnified, misunderstood, and preyed upon through unbiblical understandings of man, and ungodly loyalties.
And… When Christians lose sight of the desperate importance of the Gospel message of God’s forgiveness of our sins through Jesus (not our forgiveness of ourselves, but the forgiveness of the one holy, righteous God). When so many act like other things are more essential to the Gospel than the Gospel itself.
Our world ought to hear Isaiah 5.20- Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
And here’s the thing, Christians are being called upon, and will be called upon, by their government and their culture to call evil good in a lot of ways. We must say no. We have to stand on the truth. We have to trust God, and live holy lives in an unholy world.
Whatever else, this should drive us closer to the Lord. Right? Is it?
And goodness, it really should drive us to Jesus. God has already responded to the bleakest and worst that will ever take place in this world. How? Through the Cross.
Today, while we live faithfully and act justly, while we stand against evil, and say no to the demands of the world, we are meant to grow in our trust and faith that God’s got this, He’s always had it, and He knows exactly where He’s going with it.
We really ought to pray as those who have no lasting city here because we know Jesus is bringing an eternal city in His time. We ought to strive to have the attitude of Stephen to his killers (Acts 7:59-60) and strive against the attitude Jonah had toward Nineveh (Jonah 4:1-2). The only way that happens is if we can trust in the Gospel of salvation through Christ!
That prayer, in return, ought to open our eyes to see the ways God is actually at work in the broken rubble of this fallen world, especially when it’s paired with listening God speak through his Word, the Bible. There are stories, big and small, of his glory, his holiness, and love that are happening today. After all, Paul tells us God’s desire is to save, ultimately.
That prayer ought to strengthen our resolve to say yes to God, and no to anyone who demands we sin against God. We know where our hope comes from!
We ought to hear God’s response to all of our emotions, and even to our actions too, when he speaks so clearly in Psalm 75, and be challenged to personally grow in trusting our Good Father.
“We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.
“At the set time that I appoint
I will judge with equity.
When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast, and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck.’ ”
For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.
But I will declare it forever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
All the horns of the wicked I will cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.”