Tonight I gathered with other believers in my county courthouse for a prayer service. I had been asked to participate in the service a couple of weeks ago and my (very broad) assigned topic to pray about was “social.” The passage in Joshua (noted below) has been on my mind a lot lately, I guess because of the approaching elections, and it became my springboard. Before I prayed, I explained that I was a writer and have been writing for about ten years. I went on to say that I often wondered why God gave me that gift and have since discovered that it wasn’t so that I could make a name for myself. Writing has put me in contact with many people and expanded my world. And in that world I met a lot of people who had been hurt by Christians and/or “the church” in the past. Though most of them see things quite differently than I do, my job is not to fix anybody but to love them where they are at. I owe these friends so much, for in many ways they are the ones who taught me how to do that by being real with me and letting me be a part of their lives despite the abuse they received (and yes, it was abuse). Anyway that was kind of what I said, then I said a prayer after I read the passage in Joshua…
Joshua 5:13-14 reads: Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell face down to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” Let us pray.
Father, our nation is divided in so many ways, and while we know that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood” so often it feels that way, it feels like a physical battle. Our eyes and ears are constantly bombarded with news of the worst kind. Our society is deteriorating and, motivated by fear, we are tempted to circle our wagons and get defensive, give in to the sin of self-protection, develop an us-and-them mentality and believe that because we are Christians God is on our side.
In this new battleground we often wield our tongues like swords and maim those around us. Teach us, instead, to speak in love, lest we be clanging gongs and clashing cymbals. Heal us, Lord, of the need to be right. Show us what it means to be on Your side, that the battle is not about issues, though they are important, but about saving souls and reaching the lost, for You desire that none should perish, that all come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We know this because You’ve told us in the Bible. But Christians are the only Bible some people ever read. May we always seek to be a reflection of You, for You are love.
Jesus came to earth to live and die for us, to free us from fear and from the power of sin. He taught us to love our enemies, instructed us to bless those that curse us, insult, use, and abuse us. When kissed by his betrayer, He called him “friend.” God, I want to love like that! Teach me to love as Jesus did and still longs to do through all of us if we let Him. May we in His name give the glass of cold water, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek. And when we speak let our words always be seasoned with grace, humility, and love so that we may not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.