For the past two years, the exercise of my spiritual gift has largely been intercessory. (Before that, I’d say it was equal parts denying it and agonizing over what to do with it once there was no denying it.) In November, that started to shift. Of course, intercession will remain vital in this exercise, but now God is also calling me to also speak forth and speak into what He has revealed. Most often, in the past two months, this has come as encouragement and mild exhortation that anyone can get behind. Today, I come with a warning and a call that is at odds with both the evangelical Christian community and our culture at large.
For the ones with ears to hear:
Yesterday, President Donald Trump closed his Inaugural Address with this thought: “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow.” And not long after, one of the most respected evangelical leaders in the United States, Franklin Graham, stood and affirmed President Trump’s administration, saying that in the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing.
Lord, have mercy.
We stand ready … to unlock … to free … to harness … As if we have that power. As if we can know anything without it first being revealed by You. As if we can free anyone from anything. As if any of the earth’s resources belong to us and can be contained by us.
And yet, our nation is plagued with this hubris. At one time or another, we have all believed that the answers to human issues are within ourselves, or at least within humanity as a collective. One tends to be a conservative approach, and the other liberal, but both keep us blind to You and our need for You. We are often willfully blind, because we want to be our own gods and our own saviors.
Those whose candidate lost in November mourn the loss of a champion who would have led our nation, to fewer borders and boundaries and distinctions, to a higher human consciousness that would ultimately save us and our world. Those whose candidate won in November rejoice in the victory of a champion who will lead our nation to save itself, and in turn, save the world. For thousands of years of failed humans and human systems, there is still an inordinate amount of faith in them – especially given the caliber of the leading choices this past election cycle – because of our stubborn refusal to recognize our need for a force outside of ourselves.
Lord, have mercy.
“Pride,” the Proverb says, “goes before destruction.”
And because President Trump’s words are only an indication of a much deeper cultural problem, it is incumbent upon me to warn that our nation is on the verge of destruction.
Lord, have mercy.
The first time rain is recorded in the Bible, it is judgment (Genesis 6:1-7). There is one instance that I can think of where rain was the product of Elijah’s intercession (1 Kings 17-18, James 5:17-18), but in the context of the story, I think it says more about God blessing Elijah, not King Ahab. The best reference to rain I can find in the Bible is this from the ultimate authority on any matter, Jesus: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
So why Franklin Graham, a respected leader within the evangelical Christian community, chose to stand before our nation and say that rain in the Bible is an indication of God’s favor is inexcusable – that is, there is no good reason for it. But, as President Trump’s words are only an indication of a heart issue in American culture, so are Mr. Graham’s words are only an indication of a heart issue in the American Church.
Lord, have mercy.
We are terrified of losing our status, our position as the reigning institution in this country. We have learned that the more we are seen, and the more we are seen in a certain light, the greater our influence – that is, our ability to mould the thoughts, opinions, and actions of others. In this we have adopted the hubris of our society, clumsily attempting to do things only You can.
The difference is, we – as Your Church – should know better. After all, we have been afforded every luxury to seek and know You better. We are without excuse.
But in our ease, we have become fat and lazy, we haven’t fought to know You as we should. We have picked and chosen parts of You, making You over in our image. If we are angry about something, we make You angry. If we have an opinion on something, we make it Your opinion. If we bless something, we make You bless it. If something is out of our reach, we make it out of Your reach. It’s easier, more convenient for You to be like us.
And when Your Church, a body intended to reveal Jesus to the world, reveals instead the god we have made after human likeness, You will correct us.
Lord, have mercy.
“She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’ She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold—which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her naked body. So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands. I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals. I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; he decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot, declares the Lord” (Hosea 2:5b-13 NIV).
And just like the United States is on the verge of destruction, the American Church is about to undergo fierce discipline.
The tide of our nation’s destruction can be turned, but only if American believers rise up against it.
You promised, “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 NIV).
We are sorry, Lord. Sorry for all the ways we have tried to be You. Sorry for all the ways we have tried to make You like us. We are without excuse.
But so thankful, Lord, that You are bigger than us. That Your ways and thoughts are higher than ours.
Allure us now, Lord, into the wilderness as You did with Israel. Take away everything we love that is not You. Take away everything we’re using to reveal ourselves, and not you. Take away our ease and privilege and luxury. Get us alone with You, so we can learn who You really are, so we can become obsessed with You and revealing You to a nation who needs You.
Please forgive us and restore us, Your Church. Make us such a body as our nation and our world is without excuse as well.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:14-20 NIV).