Over the last 15 years, or so, I have witnessed and participated in what seems to be a hobby among my fellow citizens of this glorious nation. Facebook and other social networks have made it so easy to ridicule our leaders, the president and other politicians, who fall short of the standards we think they should measure up to. During the days of George W. Bush, I got caught up in that, too. It was so easy to do because his misuse of the English language made him look ignorant, and his statement that the “holy war” he waged would last only two weeks seemed to prove the point.
As I became a born-again Christian though, I began to feel convicted of my part in this game of “who can mock the most”. The Bible says to pray for your enemies and to love others as we love ourselves. My behavior did not live up to those instructions and so, after reading a book called “Honor’s Reward,” I started quoting scriptures to those who complained about our President, pointing out that he is in his position as a decision God made, and the fact that the Bible says if we resist that authority, we resist God. This is not a popular stance, and usually doesn’t go over well. But, I try to live by the words of the Bible so have continued to stick by it.
Today, however, my attention was directed to a scripture that caused me to pause and really think about what my, and other’s, responsibility is when it comes to our country’s leadership and the country, itself.
Ezekiel 22:30-31 says “And, I sought for a man among them, that should make up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore, have I poured out mine indignation upon them; and I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.”
That made me remember another story in the Bible: Genesis 18:16-33. God begins a bargaining session with Abraham saying he will not destroy Sodom if 50 righteous people can be found in the whole city. Abraham continues pleading and finally, after some negotiating, God promises he will not destroy the nation if 10 righteous people can be found.
I realized that this is the true responsibility of God’s people. We must pray, pray, and pray again! In Ezekiel, God says he found no man standing as a hedge, standing in the gap between God’s righteous judgment and Jerusalem’s sinful ways. Does God really need a man to stand between him and a country to help him judge fairly? No, absolutely not. He is all powerful, all knowing, and sovereign. Then why is he looking for a man to stand in the gap?
In Matthew 7:7, God tells us to ask, seek, and knock, indicating that he will answer our needs. In John 20:21-23, Jesus gives his followers a big responsibility. He says: ” Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Notice that first part, “Peace be with you!” Do we want peace in this nation? We always think of peace as being someone else’s responsibility. Love brings peace. Forgiveness brings peace, and Jesus is telling his disciples that whoever they judge to not be worthy of forgiveness, they will remain in sin. Conversely, if they decide someone’s sins should be forgiven, they will be forgiven.
Think about that in terms of our government. If we voice our contempt, are we not saying they don’t deserve forgiveness and cannot be saved? When we are spending every day, sometimes every moment, voicing how dissatisfied we are, we are not healing or building up our country. When Christians particpate in texting or posting parties, ridiculing and condemning our leaders, we are not standing as a hedge for our nation, and so, we are inviting God to bring destruction on our nation.
As I reflected on this passage, and the message of the Bible that we need to pray for those who are our enemies and those who persecute us, I realized how wise God is. He knows we need prayer for ourselves, but human nature is to be rather selfish most of the time. So, he allows his children to have input into how he judges their own nation.
I had to ask myself, “Am I standing in the gap between God and the shortfalls of our leaders? Am I pleading, as Abraham did, for our God to spare my fellow citizens.” I was reminded of the scripture in Matthew 7: “Judge not, that you be not judged,” and realized that it was a literal command. If I condemn my president and complain constantly that my country is going to the dogs, I will be judged because my nation will be on the road to destruction!
Does this mean we have to be blind to the faults we in our leaders? No! As a matter of fact, we have been asked to do the most effective, most powerful thing we could ever do, with the Lord of the Universe as our partner! We are to pray. What could possibly be more effective?