When tragedies strike, one of the first things we see and hear is “we’re praying”. Shootings in churches, churches being burned down, women pastors under siege, marriage equality, flag controversies…..and we see and hear, “we’re praying”. We become upset when certain issues are brought to the forefront and others are not. We blame the media for what they promote and what they fail to report….and we see and hear, “we’re praying”. Prayer vigils, prayer conferences, prayer cloths and prayer calls…..and we see and hear, “we’re praying”.
But the question becomes after we have seen it all, heard it all, had our prayer gatherings and prayer calls, what is next? What will be our response? What are we actually praying for? We say we are praying for God to heal the land but we won’t repent. We quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 and we get the praying part right but have not we humbled ourselves and turned from our wicked ways? We say we are asking God to comfort those who mourn but we fail to want to show love to everyone. Perhaps while we are praying we need to pray for God to give us strategies for what our role should be in active engagement with the issues at hand. Perhaps we need to pray for God to give us the courage to stop trying to hide behind “Jesus, fix it” and ask how can we be used by God to help fix it. Perhaps we need to pray for God to show us how to be more like Jesus willing and able to confront and combat the systems which seek to oppress and harm rather than simply just saying “we’re praying”.
We can no longer read the word but fail to act on the word. James 1:22 teaches us not to be only hearers of the word but to be doers of the word also. We cannot stay on our knees in prayer but fail to act on what God speaks. The true measure of our witness depends on if the people in darkness see the light of the people of God actively working to rid the world of the darkness.
Taking a flag down is not going to stop racism. It may remove a reminder but it will also fuel the flames. To end racism means to operate in the radical love as Christ loved and acceptance of people we consider other or inferior. It has to be taught at home, in our schools and in our communities. In order to remove racism, we must remove the mindsets which perpetuate it. In order to pierce the power racism and unfair treatment of people means we must be more educated and intentional in our voting and electing of officials. We must do more than simply pray.
To begin to hear from heaven, we must repent for all the ways we have strayed away from God – not just those who have been the victimizers but all of us. We have to repent for how we have allowed the comfort of our buildings and worship services to keep us from being actively engaged in confronting societal ills. We have allowed government to keep us from speaking truth to power. We have failed to stand on the Lord’s side for the sake of platforms, positions and financial gain. We have failed to love God’s people because they do not look like, sound like or live like we think they should. Therefore it is not those whom we deem as wrong who need to repent but the people of God need to repent as well.
As in the last couple of weeks, the days ahead will continue to try our faith and test us as the people of God. However, we must make a decision that we are not going to hide behind prayer and fail to act. If anything, we must show the world that we are not afraid and we will rebuild. We will educate. We will take a stand. But most importantly, we will love with a radical love. We will love to the point it will cast out all fear. We will love so that the world will know we truly are the people of God. Love is an action word. After we pray, let us begin to act in love.