Last week’s national nightmare seemed unending.
The unrelated shooting deaths of two African-American men and the heinous sniper attack killing five Dallas police officers left me crying out to God in desperation over the hate, division, and spiritual darkness consuming our country. Habakkuk’s words ring loudly with contemporary clarity.
“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted (Habakkuk 1:2-4).
Of course God saw and heard. He responded to Habakkuk in a powerful way, leaving Habakkuk to humble himself in genuine worship, saying, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (2:14).
God sees and hears today too, but the question is, are we — His people — crying out to Him with the burdened heart of Habakkuk? Or, are we simply ranting on Facebook? With all my heart I pray we’d direct our pain toward God that He might renew and fuel our passion to pursue that which He’s already commanded. With determined resolve, here’s six ways I am responding to last week’s horrors and I challenge you to join me.
Pursue humility. Our world is saturated with arrogance, posturing, and a constant bellowing for personal rights while shouting down others. It is starving for individuals who will, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). What more needs adding to Paul’s statement other than doing it?
Pursue prayer. Our prayers must be born from humility before God; then we must cry out to Him for everything, for mercy, for forgiveness, for reconciliation, for wisdom, for a massive turning of hearts toward Him, for the specific salvation of others, for personal boldness to share the gospel, for a moral renewal in our country, for our leaders, for our society to more highly value life … and on and on. In everything, pursue prayer.
Pursue peacemaking. Remember this? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” We must go after making peace, which means taking action that ends conflict or prevents it in the future. Maybe that means pursuing someone of another race for the purpose of making peace. The world desperately needs peacemakers.
Pursue lost souls. Jeremiah writes, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). The only way there will be peace among men is if men have peace with God, and peace with God can only come through Jesus Christ healing sin sick hearts. If you want your world changed, then you must share with the world the One who can change it.
Pursue disciple making. Seeing people come to Christ is not enough. For too long we’ve been content to see people saved and baptized, but we’ve fallen short on setting their feet firmly on the road to discipleship. Discipleship takes effort beyond evangelism and is the rebar that reinforces God’s Kingdom.
Pursue Jesus. Let’s cut through all the churchy clichés and genuinely plead with God to grant us each a personal revival that creates an insatiable desire to know and love Jesus. Any love we have of others, any humility that emanates from our souls, any peace we pursue, and any passion we have for the spiritually lost can only find its permanence in the power of Christ fueling our actions.
May God’s people be found unequivocally guilty of rushing into the fray of this world with the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed through peace, love, and humility. I am resolved to make this my response to last week’s events. Will you join me?
It’s a joy to be on this journey with you.