Our hearts have been broken by the news of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. The words of the prophet Habakkuk come to my mind as we too cry out, “How long, O Lord?” How long, O Lord, will we see violence, injustice, and wrongdoing? Our hearts break for these families, and we turn to the Lord in grief and lament. Our hearts cry out as well over the groups of people around our nation, with mixed motivations no doubt who have committed acts of violence in civil unrest. Among others, our hearts break for the family of retired officer David Dorn who was killed during unrest last week. Again, we look to the Lord in asking, how long?
The answer to that question is: we don’t know. We don’t exactly know how long we will live in heartbreak and wrongdoing. But the question itself is more of an expression of grief than a literal search for knowledge. Asking the question acknowledges a Romans 8 type of groan. We groan now because through the gospel and the promises of God we have a glimpse of the new heavens and earth. That glimpse is a far cry from the world we live in right now. In the kingdom of God there will be no violence, racism, destruction, or tears. That place will be home to a unified family, not a divided people. But we don’t live there now—not yet.
So, what is there for the people of God to do now as we await future glory? First, we are to pray for the kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven. Ever so far as the curse is found we have an opportunity to pray. During these times our prayers must be for the God of justice to bring justice (Amos 5:24). We must offer prayers of mourning and lament (Lamentations 2:2). We need to pray that the God of peace will bring peace (Phil 4:7). We must pray for the end of racism (Genesis 1:27). We pray that God will comfort the brokenhearted, reveal himself to those who have yet to receive him, and do what only he can do (Psalm 34:18). We must pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-3). I think of the many police officers and first responders that call Mercy Hill home. They have chosen this profession in order to be the light of Christ in a tangible way to those who suffer. We must pray for their protection and effectiveness during this time. We must pray for those Christians who feel a root of bitterness growing in them over the response of the broader church, or lack thereof, to racism (Hebrews 12:15). How long could this list be? Certainly longer than we have the space for here. Christian, remember this: prayer isn’t preparation for the battle, it is the battle. Prayer isn’t the last resort. Instead, prayer should be our first response. We are called to pray without ceasing, and that is certainly evident during a time like this.
Secondly, we are to use our giftings to bring signs of the new kingdom that is coming. More simply put, let us use what God gave us to make a difference in the world. Jesus didn’t die to create spectators, he died to create servants. God gifts every believer in tangible ways to serve the body of Christ. Are we using those giftings in meaningful ways that point people to God’s character and intention for the world? Sometimes I feel in the social media age that our contribution as believers has been reduced to letting the world know where we stand on social issues. Now, how I feel about our social media age is for another blog post. But what I know from the Bible is this: speaking up for the voiceless matters (Proverbs 31:8), but leveraging our time, talent, and treasure to bring real change matters just as much, if not more (Matthew 25:35-40). The practical ways to be involved are all around us. We have ample opportunities to bring signs of God’s kingdom into areas that are disproportionately affected by things like racism, violence, family breakdown, etc. Are we doing it? Are we leveraging our time, talent, and treasure? Stances are important but serving is what makes a lasting impact for change. If you have not already, we would encourage you to visit NoMoreSpectators.com where you can discover your giftings and see opportunities to live your calling.
Again, our hearts break, and we cry out to God. Let us lament well and ask him to bring his kingdom to earth. Then, let us get up and leverage our lives to bring signs of that kingdom for the Glory of God.