Early in the storyline of the Bible we read: Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (Genesis 6:5-6 - NKJV) The turning away from God, from the ways of God and from the truth of His Word, the evil and injustices in our world today must grieve the heart of God, as in the days of Noah.
The Bible tells of a time when Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem...as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it. (Luke 19:41 - NKJV) He wept because things were not the way they were supposed to be. Once again the people had turned away from God, they were not in a place where they could receive His message of peace and grace. I think Jesus would weep today as He sees what is going on in our nation, in the nation to the south of us and in countries around the world. Today Jesus weeps for a world divided by hatred, racism and injustice; where instead of celebrating and embracing diversity, we treat one another with contempt. The manifestation of what can only be labelled as pure evil grieves the heart of our Lord.
As a boy, growing up about 80km from Detroit, I remember the images of the riots of 1967, as the city burned. I remember the unrest a year later when Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. 50 years later, the streets still burn, has anything really changed? People are still gripped by fear and a deep-seeded anger, fueled by a longing for change. We are long way from Dr. King's dream.
In 1996 I had the privilege of attending the Promise Keepers Clergy Conference in Atlanta where nearly 40,000 pastors gathered to worship and hear from God. At one point, the racial discord in the nation and in the Church was addressed, and in a powerful moment of healing and reconciliation men of different color and race joined hands as we sang with Steve Green, 'Let the Walls Come Down'. (See the link on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTISgin4_Ww) Today, we need to pray again, 'let the walls come down'.
A few years ago, Janice and I were part of a Leadership Summit in Chicago. In the closing session we shared communion with church leaders from around the world. It still remains in my mind one of the most powerful images of what heaven will be like, when...a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues (Revelation 7:9) will declare with one voice the praises of our God.
Today, we need to pray for more of heaven here on earth.
As Christians we are called to carry a message of healing and grace and mercy, a message of reconciliation and peace to a hurting world. The Bible says....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. (2 Chronicles 7:14). There is no government program that can heal the hatred and violence and racial divide we are seeing today. Only God can change a hate-filled heart; the heart of God is reconciliation and peace.
So my friends at Valley, pray for peace, pray for reconciliation, pray for healing, for good to triumph over evil. Pray for calm and wise leadership. Pray for the Church, that we might be His instrument to bring grace and hope to our world. Pray the words of Jesus in John 17: I pray...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)