Clap your hands, all peoples!

Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Psalm 47: 1

 

Unfortunately, there is plenty of shouting going on in our world today. We can all attest to being exposed to hearing people literally yelling at each other when quiet discourse would be far more effective in accomplishing what needs to be done. Even when the volume of the voices is held in check, the nature of the words and the intensity of their delivery can still equate to a shouting match. We do it in print, and we do it by using our electronic communication devices. There are days when it seems as if our whole planet has decided to join in a dysfunctional and discordant chorus of worldly hymns in celebration of disagreement and entrenched position holding. Unfortunately, at least for me, none of this is very pleasant, and it does not get much that is good and worthwhile accomplished either.

 

God did not design His creation to be dysfunctional, and He does not desire for us to be contentious with each other. This fact leads me to consider if there might be a better way to engage with each other in the process of operating this planet. Perhaps if we stopped focusing so intently upon what it is that we want and desire and started to turn our eyes toward the Lord with the same concentrated gaze, we would see the world and each other differently. It might just be worth it for people to stop working so hard to establish their own points of view and start to meditate upon what it is that God would have us think, say, and do. In this process, we could relieve the silence and celebrate God’s revealed truth by joining together with others in singing songs of praise to God and by joyously clapping our hands and dancing.

 

My point is that worshiping the One who has answers and focusing upon His truth is far more likely to solve the issues that we are facing than is any of the loud and self-serving discourse that is so common these days. May I be so bold as to suggest that we could enter into a period of fasting, as it were, from all public position stating expressions, from calling out the failings of those who hold opposing views about issues, and even from the processes of gathering in the halls of governance to debate and to contest laws and such so that we can turn all of our attention toward the Lord and listen together for His will to be expressed in all matters. Then, as God, who is King and Sovereign Lord over all of Creation, speaks and provides us with His perfect will, we can break out in songs of praise and join hands in a celebratory dance as an expression of delight at the harmony and peace that our God brings to all people.

Lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

[For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]

Matthew 6: 13

 

With temptation, evil, power, kingdoms, and glory all mixed together Jesus gave us the content for a great adventure or fantasy story. But He was not telling a bedtime fable or giving us some light entertainment. Jesus was entering into the holy realm of prayer, and He was speaking about the reality of life when He did this. There are no wasted words here. All of the content is important, and that is why I have chosen to add the bracketed last line from the New American Standard text to my usual ESV version here. There is a completion of thought that these final words of this prayer bring out that seem to matter to me today.

 

Temptation swirls about us every day. God does not place it there. In fact, it comes about because there is a very real and quite active presence of evil in our world that is continually working in opposition to God, for we live squarely in the center of today’s battlefield where Satan engages with God for power and dominion and for the ownership of souls. Temptation and the sinful thoughts and actions that it can lead to are placed before us and are used as weapons of war by Satan in order to distract and disable followers of Christ from our callings as servants of the true King. When we pray for protection and for deliverance from these temptations and in repentance for our sinfulness, we are recognizing that Christ is our Lord and Master and that He will lead, guide, and empower us in living righteously.

 

Jesus is giving us words of respectful and loving submission to Christ, and He is our one and only hope for walking through these perilous days in a manner that conforms to God’s Word and that brings honor and glory to the Lord. Yet, this singular hope will not be frustrated or defeated if we continually reach out in faith and trust to Christ who does actively work to save us and to redeem this world, for God does rule this world, and He has granted to Christ the power and the authority to save people and to enact that same sovereign authority on Satan’s attempts to exercise false rule over people and places here. As people who know God and who seek to follow His will, we must continually seek out His protection and guidance as we trust Him in all aspects of life’s journey; so, we pray from deep in our hearts as Jesus models for us.

 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

Ephesians 3: 14, 15

 

Some people come from very large families. When they decide that they will gather together, the planning can take years. Moving an army across the globe can require less in the way of planning and preparation than these reunions demand. Others come from families that are small enough that it would be hard to find enough players for a game of basketball at that reunion, even if skill or physical condition were not a factor. However, in Christ, we all are adopted into a new family. Our belief in Him brings about a change in our relational status in that we are adopted by God back into the relationship with Him that was God’s design and intent in Creation. Everyone who knows Christ is inter-related and connected together by virtue of Christ’s blood and through the agency of God’s grace.

 

Unfortunately, the thing that is on my mind as I consider the way that God has worked to restore our relationship with Him and to bring people from across the world and over time together in the common bond of family is just how poorly most of us actually function in this new family. We often put out great effort in our attempts to protect and to preserve ideas and beliefs that are secondary or are minor in comparison to the great foundational truths of God. People who claim to know Christ are too ready to seek out our differences as we build protective walls around church gatherings and stand pridefully atop a watchtower that is constructed out of doctrine. Yet, throughout history, defensive walls and towers have seldom survived the assault of a determined enemy. Make no mistake about it; Christ’s enemy in this world is very determined.

 

God’s desire for all people is that we would recognize Him as Lord and follow him as our sovereign King. In so doing, we become a part of a great family of faith that spans the globe and that recognizes no differences and allows no room for superiority over other people. Our strength for the battle that is life in this world comes from our unity. We gain in our knowledge and our understanding of God as we share perspective and experience together. No human fully comprehends who God is and has a total grasp on His will. When we approach each other with hearts and minds that are open and yielded to the Spirit’s leading, we are likely to learn more of His will and to see a much bigger picture of God’s redemptive working in the lives of people. Like all gatherings of people who have not seen each other for long periods of time, there will be wariness and awkward moments at first. However, as Christ is our common bond, His Spirit will bring us together with understanding and acceptance. In Christ we are members of a great family whose name is Children of God.