Police brutality. Race riots. Brexit angst. Political upheaval. Refugee crises. ISIS bombs. Global terror.
Our land is shaken and torn open, O Lord! Mend its fractures, for it is quaking. (Psalm 60:2)
I begin my day with prayer, not knowing how to pray. My heart churns with the overwhelming tide of global unrest, seeking a stabilizing point on which I can plant my feet.
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)
And He offers just that, fixing my gaze on Himself as the one who is big enough to handle it. Because He governs men and nations, I don’t need to fret or despair.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone: my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock… I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:5)
Though I don’t see it in the headlines, though I don’t feel it in the heated discussions, He reminds me that He is still reigning, still in the process of putting all things under His pierced feet.
One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. (Psalm 62:11-12)
In the end, He will make all things right, judging each of us for what we have or have not done.
Our confidence in Christ’s lordship calls us to an overcomer’s mentality of proactive love.
And that is where He turns my prayers around and puts the burden back on me. What have I done to bring peace in my time? What have I done to offer refuge to the refugee? What have I done to encourage those who govern or protect us, to speak up for those who are vulnerable to discrimination and unjust treatment, or to break down walls of hostility and mistrust? I too will be judged.
But what can I do? The overwhelming nature of the problems tempts me to a victim’s mentality of helplessness. But the all-powerful nature of God calls me to an overcomer’s mentality of proactive love.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
I can use my everyday actions to show acts of kindness to those who least expect it. Like the black doctor who worked to save the lives of white police officers, I can go out of my way to show love to those who fall into opposing political camps or racial groups from me. Look an immigrant in the eye and ask him how he is doing. Invite black acquaintances over for dinner and ask them how they are really feeling (and then listen empathetically). Buy a police officer a coffee and thank him for his service. Write a constructive letter to a politician from the “other side,” encouraging her to consider my cause.
As I meditated on Romans 12 this morning with our current global contexts in mind, it spoke deeply and practically to how we as Christians should live out our confidence that Jesus is Lord. Because we trust that He is actively reigning in our world, we don’t need to react in terror, erect boundaries in fear, re-enforce divisions in distrust, write scathing criticisms in alarm, or retreat in despair. Rather, with our feet firmly rooted on rock of His rule, we are free to love those we would otherwise hate, or fear.
This is what it means to be a Christian in our world. As you pray through the following verses, I would love to hear how God is speaking to you about what we can do to stop fretting over the problems and start being a part of the solution.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.