How many times have you asked yourself that question? When I finally quit asking the question rhetorically and really wanted to know, I found some helpful answers that I’d like to share with you in today’s podcast.
The 2020 election insanity and the pandemic topped off by the divisiveness, violence, looting and burning in Mpls/St Paul put me over the edge. Even as a follower of Jesus, I had my moments of fear and I let fear get the best of me. Panic could easily take over if I let it. I knew if I didn’t keep my hope and faith anchored on what God says about who He is and what is yet to come, I would completely freak out or probably do something really stupid. So I did a lot of soul searching and questioning God that ultimately led to the writing of this song, What are We Gonna Do? You can hear the instrumental playing underneath this right now.
First, we have to start with the right framework, with what God says about this life on earth (See footnote at end of the show notes for specific Bible references). The Bible says that the world lies in the power of the evil one1 and that our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the HEAVENLY places2. Jesus said in this world we would have tribulation3. Yep, I can believe that!
The Bible also says we need to be prepared so we can resist4 and that God in us is greater than he who is in the world (talking about the devil).5 It says, Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good6. Surely this must be possible if the Bible states it so clearly, right? I’m still asking God to help me believe, not just with my head, but with my heart and to be ready to act like I believe it!
I believe this life is a test. A test of our faith and our ability to allow God to speak into our lives. I believe we, more than ever, have the ability to be the light of the world that is needed so desperately! So when the world is on fire, what is our response? What do we say or do that reflects the work that Jesus has done in our lives as believers, as HIS followers.
Should we be angry at some of the things that we are seeing? Absolutely! Should we rile each other up as well? No…we are called to strongly encourage each other to do the right thing, living to the glory of God! That is truly loving one another!
Should we speak the first thing that comes to our mind in response to those things? I’ve done that and usually those words weren’t reflective of the work that Jesus has done in my life. The Bible says “words kill or words give life, they’re either poison or fruit, you choose”7. That is incredibly powerful and hugely important.
Throughout a lifetime of failures and apologies, I’ve come up with a process that I want to share with you that can help. You see, we have this super computer in our head that can play out scenarios with the words that we say and what that story is going to look like at the end. So this happens very quickly if we allow it. You can see the end of this particular moment and you can change your words based on that predicted outcome. Whether it’s to someone’s face or a text to someone or something on social media, you can see the end of that story pretty clearly and change what you are going to say or do.
The real test is do we care enough about what pleases God to choose our response accordingly or do we give in to “feeling” justified in our words and actions regardless of how much pain it could cause; pain to ourselves, to others and to God Himself.
I believe the more time we spend praying and the less time we spend giving our own personal commentary to people on what’s going on, the more the Holy Spirit works and the more receptive people are to God’s truth. I also believe that the more time we spend praying and the less time we spend worrying helps to bring peace to our own lives. Which would you rather spread? Worry and panic or peace?
Friends, I need the same encouragement. I’m not exempt from panicking and worrying and flying off the handle with my words that can hurt someone in my circle, or can certainly hurt my Jesus-influence on those that are still seeking.
I do believe there is a time for action, don’t get me wrong. But that action is going to reflect what the Word of God says or it’s going to reflect Mark’s personal opinion on whatever the situation is. Again, I would prefer my actions and my words to go through the filter of what the Bible says.
There’s no condemnation in any of the things that I’m saying. This is an encouragement to us, those of us who love Jesus--do not let worldly influence affect how we live our lives for the Kingdom‘s sake.
The next test is do we act like we believe what God says about love and prayer in the context of a world on fire? I was surprised at how much the Bible had to say about this.
If ever there was a time to pray, it’s now! The song, What are We Gonna Do, was written as a call to prayer in response to all the things going on in the world today. Jesus Himself tells us to pray, asking our Heavenly Father that HIS WILL would be done, here on this earth as it is in heaven8. Prayer changes things!
We are called to bless and pray for each other. It’s easier said than done, but Jesus clearly includes our ENEMIES in that statement9.
We are called to pray for our governmental leaders10 at the federal level all the way down to the local levels. I had to ask myself, when’s the last time I really really prayed for my governmental leaders, not from a selfish standpoint, but to pray that God would intervene in their lives the way he intervened in mine. The Bible describes it as coming to one’s senses and escaping from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.11 We are to pray for all in authority SO THAT we may lead a tranquil and quiet life.12 Who doesn’t want more of that!
We are called to pray for the church to shine in this incredibly dark time that we live in. By the way, for those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers, we are the church.
We’re called to pray for our pastors13 that they would be strong and know what God wants them to say each Sunday in front of millions of people collectively. The church is truly the answer to the world’s problems. Have you ever stopped to think about how many people are worshiping the God of the universe at any particular moment? We are part of that global worship. Isn’t that staggering?
I don’t go to church to make myself feel better; I used to though. Do you know what an encouragement it is on Sunday to see people gather together in the same room and the pour themselves out in worship? And when those same people join together in prayer, amazing things happen. I think we will be shocked in heaven when we see the playback reels of all the answers to prayer that we were not aware of; that were not reported on the news.
The chorus of this song says, let’s turn our thoughts to heaven, to the one who is in control. To the one who truly loves and speaks life to our soul. Let’s turn our thoughts to heaven and God will make a way! I say, let’s pray”
Here’s the prayer:
God turn our hearts
God make a move
God reveal what’s true
We put our hope in YOU!
I 1 John 5:19
2 Ephesians 6:12
3 John 16:33
4 Ephesians 6:13
5 I John 4:4
6 Romans 12:21
7 Proverbs 18:21
8 Matthew 6:10
9 Matthew 5:44
10 I Timothy 2:2
11 II Timothy 2:26
12 I Timothy 2:2
13 Romans 15:30-32; Ephesians 6:19-20