If we Christians are honest with ourselves, we must admit that no matter what we have been doing thus far, the tide of events continues to sweep our society along, irrevocably it seems, towards fiscal disaster, moral chaos, and anarchy.
An old adage says, “When all else fails, pray!” God says the same thing in 2 Chronicles 7:14, in giving counsel to King Solomon regarding the steps to be taken whenever the nation Israel, suffering discipline for its wayward ways, is seeking a way out.
“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (KJV)
Though this counsel was given originally to God’s people Israel, with regard to the Promised Land, the principle is still the same. Today “my people” is the church, the body of believers, whom Jesus said are the “light of the world” and “ the salt of the earth,” and we desperately need God’s intervention.
But we need to carefully heed the measures we must take and follow them in their stated sequence, if we would see God work.
The first phrase in the exhortation is “If my people, who are called by my name.” It indicates the necessity of a decision on our part as believers, corporately, to take action. The buck stops with us! Unless we the church, His people, decide and act, nothing will happen.
And please, let us not be under the delusion that our society is ever going to recover from its moral slide if we just elect the right people to govern us.
Don’t get me wrong. We should indeed elect to office the best, most upright, most principled men and women we can, but as someone has rightly observed, “Politics is the art of the possible.” Its powers to legislate good laws are limited by whatever the current mood of society happens to be.
Only a revival of faith in the living God can change the mood of society, and only a revived church can bring that about. It has happened many times in the past, e.g., the Reformation in Western Europe (16th century), the Wesleyan Revivals in England (18th century), and the Great Awakenings in America (18th and 19th century), to mention a few. It can happen again here and now, if we the church will but heed the exhortations here given.
The primary actions needed for our receiving God’s help are to “humble (ourselves) and pray and seek His face.” It is no good crying out to God about how bad things are and pleading for His help unless we come confessing our failure and helplessness and the futility of seeking our own solutions.
But now comes the clincher, the hard part: “and turn from their wicked ways.” Since we have not up until now obeyed God’s call to humble ourselves and seek His face, does that mean we do not think we have any wicked ways to turn from? Dare we say that to God’s face? Dare we?
An old, oft-repeated liturgical prayer breaks into our complacency and begs to be taken seriously: “Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our won hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. . . .” (“The Book of Common Prayer”)
Forgive us, O Lord. Revive us, we pray, and heal our land for Your mercy’s sake. Amen.
Image courtesy of the Mail Online.
Bert Warden is a former missionary and retired C&MA pastor. He is a member of Sevenoaks Alliance Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia.