You (like me) watched with horror what happened on January 6, 2021. While peaceful protest is a hallmark of our democracy, what happened at the US Capitol was tragic and grievous. It was a dark day in American history.
I’ve wrestled with what to say my church in this moment. Here are some prayerful thoughts.
As Christians, our primary weapons of war aren’t clubs and violence, but prayer and intercession.
What we saw Wednesday was merely a symptom of a deep-rooted sickness that has gripped our nation. It’s a sickness of idolatry, of violence, of only listening to facts we agree with, of pursuing worldly means of achieving power. It’s a sickness of sin.
Sadly, this is not just a sickness in the world “out there.” It has crept into the church, infecting self-proclaimed followers of Jesus.
This is our problem.
If we want a cure to the disease, here are a some biblical truths we must cling to:
1. We serve no ordinary king. Our ultimate king is Christ — and Christ alone. He is the only one who deserves our undivided allegiance.
- “He… is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.” (1 Timothy 6:15)
2. We pledge allegiance to no ordinary kingdom. Our ultimate Kingdom is not the United States, but the kingdom of God. Our love and devotion to this temporary nation must never exceed our love and devotion for the never-ending kingdom of God.
- “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.” (Psalm 145:13)
3. We do not fight in ordinary ways. There are situations in which it is biblically permissible to use force — such as serving in the armed forces or in self-defense. But as Christians, our primary weapons of war aren’t clubs and violence, but prayer and intercession.
- “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
4. We do not have an ordinary mission. We are called to be agents of reconciliation in the world, pointing broken people to their loving God. We are not — in any situation — called to be agents of chaos.
- “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself… Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
A Better Cause
I’m not naïve. I’m sure some of you may find yourselves strangely sympathetic to the rioters’ cause. Maybe you feel a strong sense of injustice, and you want to be a part of some great movement.
Let me speak directly to you for a moment: Your ache at the realities of injustice is good; we do live in a fallen, broken world. Your desire to join in a great cause is admirable; we all want to be a part of something great.
But this is not the way.
There is injustice in the world, but this isn’t the way to fight it. We should be a part of greater causes, but we deserve something better than a violent mob.
The truth is that God already has a plan to effect change in the world — to fight injustice and give you a chance to join in something great. But this plan doesn’t involve clubs and riots. It involves everyday people of God joining together to love their neighbors and proclaim the gospel to them. If you want to change the world, join the church.
We aren’t called to fight our enemies, but to love them.
If you want to change the world, join the church.
Look to Jesus
Jesus lived during a tense political time, too. The whole world was walking on egg shells; at any moment, violence could break out. The people expected the Messiah would join them in their fight — overthrowing the wicked empire they so despised.
But did Jesus do that? No. When Jesus came, he didn’t conquer his enemies, he laid down his life for them. He didn’t satisfy the crowds’ yearning for violence, he renounced those desires. When Peter drew the sword to cut off the ear of one of Jesus’ captors, Jesus reprimanded him for it.
See, their hopes were far too small. Jesus had bigger plans — plans not just for a temporary kingdom, but for a cosmic redemption of all parts of mankind.
Today, don’t let your hopes be too small. Join in with God’s bigger plans — for your life, and for the world.
As we conclude, please join me in praying for our nation — and for us. The change we want to see in the world must start in our own lives.
A version of this article originally published at Cedar Rock First Baptist Church.