For a while now I’ve been bothered by much of what I’m witnessing in the Christian world.
From where I sit, a large chunk of the Church presents as meaner, colder, less compassionate, and less principled today than it was a handful of years ago.
I watch as people I’ve known to be kind, caring folk resort to name calling, hateful language, and even calls to violence. I watch as people dismiss gentleness or concern for neighbor as weakness. As people who claim to follow Truth spread falsehoods and deny reality even as it gasps for breath right in front of them.
The only explanation I can think of is not a comfortable one – we become like what we worship. I fear too many of us have fixed our eyes on political power and those who wield it rather than Jesus.
“We vote for a president not a pastor” has demonstrated itself a bankrupt idea. For many our conversations, online presence, and the way we treat each other has proven not just our votes are at stake, but also our very hearts and minds and souls.
It turns out that who we vote for and champion and the media we consume and the memes we share all shape us. They form us in their image. The word for this is discipleship.
I wonder whose disciples we have become? Whose message do we spread? Whose language do we adopt? Whose values do we carry? In my view we continue to look and sound less like Jesus (no matter how much lip service we give him) and more like our preferred politicians.
This is problematic. Scripture calls it idolatry.
It happens without us realizing it and I am beyond convinced it is happening throughout our country.
I say this from a place of contrition. I am a guilty party. I must be better. We must be better.
For the sake of Christ. For the sake of our witness to the world. For the sake of the healing we could be offering in these troubled times.
We have much work to do. We must relearn what it means to be Christlike. We must unlearn the stories of any competing narratives. We have much to ask forgiveness for and much realignment of priorities to get after.
It will start with humility and repentance. With taking seriously the call to knock it off and turn from the direction we are going (a direction that is leading to our destruction) and head back the way God intends, whatever the cost.
It will not be easy. It will not be fun. It won’t seat us in power or make us rich, but it is the only way we will find what we are most in need of and the only way the Church can continue to call herself Christian.
This day/this season/this year is heavy. The decisions being made, the polarization of our nation and churches, the pain that plays out in our homes, on the news, and on social media.
As we vote and watch results and wonder about the direction of our nation, I invite you to use this reflection to re-center and remind yourself. While elections are important and have a role to play in the world-as-it-should-be, we ultimately belong to a different kind of Kingdom and a different kind of King. Whatever happens in the coming days does not change our call to be people who do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. Whatever comes in the coming days our hope, and the hope of the world, is Jesus Christ. Our allegiance lies with him.
Below is Scripture, prayer prompts, and songs reminding us who we are and Who we belong to. Today we cast our anxieties on our God. We turn our faces toward our King in hope, in distress, and in anticipation.
If you can, I’d encourage you to read the Scriptures out loud and join the singing as well. It may take about 30 minutes all together so if breaking it into sections helps, go for it.
May God meet us here. May God give us peace. May God help us be faithful.
Watch – The Apostles’ Creed
Read – Psalm 146 (Common English Bible)
1 Praise the Lord!
Let my whole being praise the Lord! 2 I will praise the Lord with all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.
3 Don’t trust leaders; don’t trust any human beings— there’s no saving help with them! 4 Their breath leaves them, then they go back to the ground. On that very same day, their plans die too.
5 The person whose help is the God of Jacob— the person whose hope rests on the Lord their God— is truly happy! 6 God: the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, God: who is faithful forever, 7 who gives justice to people who are oppressed, who gives bread to people who are starving! The Lord: who frees prisoners. 8 The Lord: who makes the blind see. The Lord: who straightens up those who are bent low. The Lord: who loves the righteous. 9 The Lord: who protects immigrants, who helps orphans and widows, but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn!
10 The Lord will rule forever! Zion, your God will rule from one generation to the next!
Listen – My Hope is Built/The Solid Rock – Norton Hall Band
Read – 1 Timothy 2:1-6 (CEB)
First of all, then, I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people. 2 Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and it pleases God our savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 There is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the human Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a payment to set all people free. This was a testimony that was given at the right time.
Prayer – Use these prompts from World Vision
Pray for candidates to seek God’s guidance.
Pray that candidates (and all of us!) would have listening ears and soft hearts.
Pray for candidates to address poverty and justice issues.
Pray for strength and encouragement for our leaders and election candidates.
Pray that our leaders would commit to working together (and that we would too).
Pray that we would see each other through Jesus’ eyes.
Read – Psalm 22:25-31 (CEB)
25 I offer praise in the great congregation because of you; I will fulfill my promises in the presence of those who honor God. 26 Let all those who are suffering eat and be full! Let all who seek the Lord praise him! I pray your hearts live forever! 27 Every part of the earth will remember and come back to the Lord; every family among all the nations will worship you. 28 Because the right to rule belongs to the Lord, he rules all nations. 29 Indeed, all the earth’s powerful will worship him; all who are descending to the dust will kneel before him; my being also lives for him. 30 Future descendants will serve him; generations to come will be told about my Lord. 31 They will proclaim God’s righteousness to those not yet born, telling them what God has done.
Listen – Let Justice Roll – Orlando World Outreach Center
Pause – Spend a minute or two in silence
Listen – Your Peace Will Make Us One – Audrey Assad
Read – Revelation 4:1-5 (CEB)
After this I looked and there was a door that had been opened in heaven. The first voice that I had heard, which sounded like a trumpet, said to me, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in a Spirit-inspired trance and I saw a throne in heaven, and someone was seated on the throne. 3 The one seated there looked like jasper and carnelian, and surrounding the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald. 4 Twenty-four thrones, with twenty-four elders seated upon them, surrounded the throne. The elders were dressed in white clothing and had gold crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came lightning, voices, and thunder. In front of the throne were seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God.
Read – Revelation 5 (CEB)
Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one seated on the throne. It had writing on the front and the back, and it was sealed with seven seals. 2 I saw a powerful angel, who proclaimed in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or look inside it. 4 So I began to weep and weep, because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look inside it. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Don’t weep. Look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has emerged victorious so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then, in between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb, standing as if it had been slain. It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are God’s seven spirits, sent out into the whole earth. 7 He came forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one seated on the throne. 8 When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each held a harp and gold bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 They took up a new song, saying,
“You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain, and by your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. 10 You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will rule on earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard the sound of many angels surrounding the throne, the living creatures, and the elders. They numbered in the millions—thousands upon thousands. 12 They said in a loud voice,
“Worthy is the slaughtered Lamb to receive power, wealth, wisdom, and might, and honor, glory, and blessing.”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea—I heard everything everywhere say,
“Blessing, honor, glory, and power belong to the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb forever and always.”
14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped.
Listen – Is He Worthy? – Andrew Peterson
Read and be reminded.
Hebrews 1:3 – The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message. After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right side of the highest majesty.
Psalm 47:8 – God is king over the nations. God sits on his holy throne.
Psalm 103:19 – The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Give thanks to the Lord because he is good. God’s faithful love lasts forever!
2 Give thanks to the God of all gods— God’s faithful love lasts forever. 3 Give thanks to the Lord of all lords— God’s faithful love lasts forever. 4 Give thanks to the only one who makes great wonders— God’s faithful love lasts forever. 5 Give thanks to the one who made the skies with skill— God’s faithful love lasts forever. 6 Give thanks to the one who shaped the earth on the water— God’s faithful love lasts forever. 7 Give thanks to the one who made the great lights— God’s faithful love lasts forever. 8 The sun to rule the day— God’s faithful love lasts forever. 9 The moon and the stars to rule the night— God’s faithful love lasts forever!
Listen – Doxology – Maverick City Music
Benediction – Hebrews 13:20-21
20 May the God of peace, who brought back the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, from the dead by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with every good thing to do his will, by developing in us what pleases him through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory forever and always. Amen.
Thanks for praying and worshiping with me. Below are some more songs to carry you through this day.