At the end of March, I had the honor of preaching at the “Show Me Your Glory” event at the state capitol. The following is a synopsis of my address:
For the Christian community, what we believe teaches us that we are to live by faith. Faith that is substantive and based on the truth of God’s word, not the whims of mankind.
Such faith can take people through the trials of life. Such faith enables God’s people to embrace the impossible challenges of life, and hope for an incredible work of God. We hunger for the full display of what God wants to do, is willing to do, and is doing through godly men and women of this generation.
We live in difficult times – times darkened by moral relativism, intellectual negligence, spiritual apathy, and erotic libertarianism. Yet too many people, who call themselves believers, are shrinking from opportunities to exert their influence. That is not the plan of God for the people of God. He wants us – He wills for us – to enter the fray: on our knees in prayer first, then secondly, with character, conviction and compassion, in demonstrating faith in the public square.
Flip back through the pages of American history. You can meet some of the icons of faith. These were men and women who confronted challenging moments with righteous courage, virtuous heroism, and anointed leadership at just the right moment in history.
There needs to be a fresh call for men and women who, like the sons of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:13), understand our times as precarious and yet as the fertile ground for a fresh movement God’s Spirit.
Issachar’s tribe lived surrounded by ignorance, idolatry, unrighteousness, and jurisdictional chaos. Yet the men of this tribe understood the times and subsequently proceeded to provide direction for a nation.
How is it possible for us to do that?
1. Get our heads right
The men from Issachar’s tribe understood God as the righteous judge. The law was the rule. You step out of line and catastrophe strikes. In the context of natural law, wicked behavior always produces consequences. To not understand that is wrongheaded.
When Jesus came, He revealed a more complete perspective. The God who judges wickedness is also the God who seeks to love people and demonstrate His passion for redeeming people. The more we understand the God who reveals Himself through the Scriptures, the more we see His love, mercy and grace.
The cross, like life, is both vertical and horizontal. Vertically, we connect to God, His kingdom, eternal life, and divine principles for living successful lives of purpose. Horizontally, we are to stretch out our arms as the Lord Jesus did on the cross to embrace people with the mercy and love of God.
The sons of Issachar of today must get our heads right about this. We remain committed to both the vertical and horizontal. There is righteousness and justice and at the same time there is compassion and protection of life.
Will we not lift up holy hands to God and at the same time stretch out helping hands to people in need?
2. See people through a compassionate perspective
Something every follower of Jesus learns quickly in their journey of faith is that faith in Jesus changes people from the inside out. His Spirit empowers us to offer a counter narrative to the culture at large.
Missouri Baptists launched a new initiative this spring: “Pray Across Missouri.” In so many counties, we were impressed with how community leaders and church leaders are pulling together to help broken people and broken families. I believe the Show Me state can potentially show the world about working together.
There are things that the government knows it cannot fix, but we, the people of faith, can be the healing salve.
Consequently, engagement must be the passion for all of us:
- When 13,000 children are entangled in the foster care system …
- When the sex-slave trade is running rampant in our two major metro areas …
- When the slaying of preborn children is sanctioned by municipal edict …
- When our prisons are stuffed with adults and juveniles whose lives are corrupted by illegal drug trafficking …
- When some of our seniors and veterans are kicked to the curb as if they are no longer valued …
We must engage—first on our knees in prayer and then with hands set to the plow to make a difference to transform lives and communities in this generation.
We must understand the times and see people with compassionate eyes and take hold of mercy for such a time as this. Our collective passion must be to humbly change lives and communities through redemption, restoration and reconciliation.
3. Know the course of action to take
The enemies of truth and grace continue to tell the public that our faith values are ancient, intolerant, and irrelevant, yet the Scriptures tell us that “righteousness exalts a nation.”
That cannot be said of erotic libertarians or those who serve a god of their own making.
As people of God — godly people — we can show the world what I heard my friend Richard Land say, that our faith is not primarily about what we oppose, and it’s never about anything we desire to impose. Our faith, our life, is about what we propose: a purposeful, personal relationship with Jesus Christ and fellow men.
People of faith—21st century sons of Issachar, who understand the times, it’s our time to rise up and defend life and speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Rise up and celebrate human dignity and positive family relationships. Rise up and defend religious liberty, end human trafficking, and welcome strangers.