ARISE and Shine!
Unrest has rocked our nation over the last week. After a blatant display of police brutality in Minneapolis that took the life of George Floyd, cities across our nation have experienced a torrent of lawlessness. Questions, opinions, hurt, anger, and fear have been some of the primary responses by Americans that are looking for hope, healing, and justice in the midst of the chaos. As followers of Christ, we know that the Scriptures give us directions on how to respond even in uncertain times.
A week ago, when President Trump announced that churches were essential and needed to be allowed to open back up, he said, "We need more prayer in America, not less." We could not agree more.
Last night we shifted plans for ARISE, our virtual partner event, to focus on praying for our leaders and our nation. We were joined by elected leaders and pastors from across the nation including Michele Bachmann, Ken Blackwell, Pastor Carter Conlon, Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), Pastor Jack Hibbs, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Bishop Harry Jackson, and Cissie Graham Lynch.
It was a powerful night filled with discussion of the pressing questions facing America, followed by times of intercession. As Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) acknowledged in prayer, "We are at a historic, and unfortunately, heavy moment in our country's history, and we need Your guidance. We do a misnomer to our own selves to try to solve some of the most complex problems in our own strength and our own power... We need you now more than ever to bring healing to our land."
Lifting up minority communities, he continued, "I pray for the people that are hurting today. This pain is real in our communities, this is not fabricated. Lord, I pray for healing among our minority communities that are struggling with this, rightfully so. That you would allow us to build bridges, to build bonds that ultimately, they can see Christ not just in our words, but in our actions."
Addressing the question on many Americans' minds, Pastor Leon Threatt of Christian Faith Assembly in Charlotte, N.C. shared how we can come together across ethnic lines to bring healing and hope for America:
"I honestly believe that the divide we see in culture is often because there is a divide in the church... According to Ephesians 2, the cross brought down the line of division between Jew and Gentile. And it's that work of the cross that the enemy doesn't want. I think there is a failure of the church to model that according to John 17, to demonstrate that in such a way that we send a profound message to culture and to community that divide has been eradicated. I think if we will live that out in such a way, we make transformation and change in our communities."
It's true that if any place should model what racial harmony looks like, it should be the church. We're all on level ground at the foot of the cross.
Though these are dark days for our nation, we cannot sit back or stay quiet. The answers to the problems plaguing America will not come from political parties or even well-intentioned peaceful protests. The world is searching for the hope, peace, and reconciliation that Jesus alone can bring.
I hope you will take time to not only watch the ARISE event and join us in prayer, but to take to heart the words of Cissie Graham Lynch. "These [days] are opportunities for us to shine in the darkness," she prayed. "That, as Christians, we will run to the front of the fire... This is an opportunity to show your love, the love of Jesus Christ, the One that can make a way for healing. To bind up those wounds. You [Jesus] are the only one that can change the heart."
As Pastor Threatt stated, "There's still work to be done in the church to model that the divide was removed at the cross." May we follow the instructions of Scripture and "First of all, [let] petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Let us ARISE as the church "to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8) to help our hurting world.