I remember hearing a Bible verse as lyrics to a song on a Promise Keepers album back in the mid 1990s. It became a call to men as hundreds of thousands of men, hungry for God, desiring to be more than a good husband or father, descended on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. A decade later, my oldest son joined me on a second trip to the same place. It was a smaller crowd, but the heart’s cry was still the same. Recent events in the news have brought this simple statement back to my mind, and as I sit alone in the quiet of an early Saturday morning, rain finally falling outside after months of hot, dry, smoke-filled days, I see this scripture again as a call to a nation, a people, to me.
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2Chr. 7-14
We want healing; we love to hear the stories of the miraculous – no more cancer, an accident victim on death’s door full recovers and walks again, a dad turns away from chasing sin to pursuing reconciliation with his wife and kids. The list goes on. Now, with society on the brink of self-destruction and calamity, I hear those lyrics again. What is God saying?
If my people, who are called by my name – It begins with a choice of God’s people – professing, Evangelical, born-again believers. Not Christians by name on a piece of paper, not some flip, loose affiliation with a group because you can spell G-O-D. No, these are those who have accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts as Lord and Savior and choose to allow Him to lead their lives. God’s people. God’s people who make a choice. But, what choice?
Will humble themselves. The greatest stumbling block to communication and reconciliation is humility, or actually, a lack of it. What does it mean to be humble? It is taking a modest view of one’s own importance. To be willing to place the needs of others over our own. To be less focused on speaking what is on our mind, but rather speak what is on God’s mind. It is taking ourselves out of the center of our universe, and placing God there, where he belongs.
And pray and seek My face. When we are humble, we begin to see needs beyond our own. We then bring them to God, not in a haphazard nonchalant manner, but truly praying – speaking to God and seeking Him. When I hear the phrase “seeking God’s face”, I envision a dimly lit room, where I strain forward to identify the faint silhouette before me. As my eyes adjust to the dim light, I focus on the features that make up the face, and slowly it comes clear to me. Seeking God’s face is focused, intent, and purposeful.
And turn from their wicked ways. It is talking about repentance. It is bringing our mistakes, our hurts, our hurtful actions and words, to the foot of the cross, leave them there, and walk away. If we continue to wrong ourselves and those around us, it hinders our ability to seek the face of God. But, repentance is not a “one and done”. It is a daily, humbling, willingness to admit we are wrong, but are mature enough to bring it to Jesus.
Then what? The verse then gives an account of what God will do. Notice, there are number of steps we must take before God moves. We need to show Him we are serious about making the necessary changes, and even though they are hard, we must do them before He moves. But, once we do start moving in this direction, then it says:
Then I will hear. Have you ever been in a room full of people, huddled in small groups of two or three, each having their own completely different conversation? To the unfocused ear, all you hear is murmuring, unrecognizable babble. When we have not yet taken these steps to move closer to God, that is what our conversations and words are…just babble. Once we have intently focused on Him and drawn closer to Him, THEN he will hear, then He will
Forgive their sin. Forgiveness cannot come without repentance. We must recognize our sin for what it is – blatant disobedience to God. Once we humbly come to God, confess our wrongdoings and mistakes and turn from them, the process of healing can begin, through forgiveness.
And will heal their land. Healing may not mean Salvation for every member of every ethnic, political, and special interest group. Healing means they can come together, in spite of their differences, and work toward a common good. As Christians, we too often feel if every member of our little bubble group is not saved, they can’t be a part of the group or contribute. But I ask you…if they are never exposed to God in a real, loving way through a relationship with us, how will they ever get the chance to “join the group”? The problem is that we see it as too risky, or potentially too messy, to have them join in. See my comments on humility above.
As Christians, it is not our job to verbally attack and abuse the President, the government, the special interest groups. They are people, and they aren’t the enemy. Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Satan is very real, and working very hard in the hearts of men. HE is our true enemy; he is the one we should be focusing our prayers against. Nobody will listen to the love of God and accept Jesus while we are beating them over the head with our Bible. They will know we are Christians by our love for one another, and for them. Lets not callous our hands with bull horns and picket signs, lets callous our knees in prayer. Lets us not shout displeasure in the face of others, lets cry out to God so that He will hear, He will forgive, and He will heal our land. Lord, let repentance and revival begin in MY heart.