I should probably begin to spend less time on Twitter, even though it is one place, in the absence of a tv, a person can sort of find out news. I was just collapsing into bed last night and learned of yet another shooting. But before I could read anything about it, I was confronted with the New York Daily News cover for today. The headline reads, “God Isn’t Fixing This.” Within a couple of seconds I had discovered, I guess along with most other people, the wondrous new idea of ‘Prayer Shaming’.
As usual, the juxtaposition of ugliness is so interesting. Yesterday was also the release of another Buzzfeed video of supposed Christians sneering at all other Christians in a mocking and angry way, sloganeering their doctrine of cultural sensitivity and moral vacuousness. I watched that and felt embarrassed for them, the way, so usual in these modern climes, one blushes over the shocking obtuseness of one who feels no shame. These Christians, since that appears to be their own self identification, seem never to have heard anything substantive about Christianity, and are roiling angry over the little misinformation that they have.
Funny how out of fashion God is. And yet he is on everybody’s lips and everybody is so mad at him. He’s not fixing everything quickly enough. He’s not following the program. And people who, in the face of unspeakable tragedy, offer to pray, must be covered with shame because they have not, at the same moment, articulated the correct doctrine of the age, in this case gun control.
It will be no surprise to you that I don’t really want to talk about guns, I want to talk about God. Here’s the thing about gun violence…it’s not about the guns. It’s about the incredible ugliness of the human heart. As long as there is a great swath of people in the world broadcasting loudly their own goodness–and this is most of the world, it’s Islam, it’s Climate Hysteria, it’s Humanistic Secularism, it’s Every Single Religion Besides Christianity with the possible exception of Judaism–there is going to be violence. The problem isn’t the guns, the problem is the people.
The only way to stop the endless killing is for every single human person to fall to the ground, tear his fair trade non gender specific clothing, weep, pour dust and ash on his own Justin Bieber styled head, and cry out desperately for mercy from a just God. That’s called repentance. A person could do it less publicly, of course, but it seems to me that we’re reaching the point where a little public self shame, self abasement, sorrow over the self, so far from not killing anybody, might be a means to stop some of the actual killing.
The very idea that God is not fixing it, that the person who prays and who offers prayer to the grieving, the broken, the suffering, should experience shame for doing so is a most instructive sign. God himself promises that he will shed forth his common grace upon humanity’s ugliness, keeping them in check, up to a certain moment. But then, when the time suits him, he will remove his gracious preventing hand, he will let humanity do whatever it wants to do. And we can know what humanity wants to do from the first few chapters of the bible. They want to grab, covet, lie, and kill. That’s what we most want. That’s who we really are.
God did provide a way for the human person to be “fixed”, and what an ugly way of saying it that is, and that was at the cross where he took all the death on to himself. You can have his solution, you can have his death count for you, but you have to repent, you have to say that you are sorry, you have to ask him to help you, to save you. You don’t get to have the merits and benefits of the cross if you are screaming angry at him for who you are and who he is.
So telling is it that over all the blood on the ground in San Bernardino and Syria and Turkey and Mali and Paris, and the incredible ugliness of young people screamingly disrespecting their elders, of people in government shaming those who pray, of people calling themselves Christians sneering at the wrong kind of Christian, over all that the word Love is spread–not to do what love does, which is to cover over shame, to forgive, care for, forebear with and heal–but rather to shame. “In the end,” said one young person at the end of the video, “the grand message here is that we’re supposed to love one another.” Mmmm, the rich, heavy aroma of hypocrisy in the morning.
Yes, love is at the center. But it’s not your love. It’s not your actions. It’s not who you are.
It’s God. God is the loving one who saves his creation from utter destruction. Which brings me, in this last moment, back to the question of prayer. What a better and more glorious shame could there be for the Chrisitan in these terrible times? For you, the one who loves God, who sits in darkness holding out the sorrowful burden of your sin, who bears selflessly with the frailty and weakness of another, if you who have been rescued by God from your own perishing ugliness, if you pray! Just think. God promises to hear the one who prays, who cries out to him. He is listening. He is counting up all the drops of blood. He is storing up the tears. He knows. When you pray, he does act. So, discouraged and beleaguered Christian, Pray! For everything! For the world! For yourself! For the lost! Pray as if everything depends upon it!