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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Privilege and Responsibility

It is easy to see bad stuff happening in this world and then to shake angry fists at the perpetrators of this evil, isn't it?  We don't want to believe the evils are even possible, much less that they are becoming a reality around us.  As long as there is breath to breathe on this earth, evil will abound.  This is a fact we can bank on.  So, in the midst of evil, what should be our response?  In the Book of I Timothy, Paul instructs Timothy to do one thing and do it well - pray.  He begins by saying:  "The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live."  (vs. 1-3 MSG)  The FIRST thing God wants from us is for us to lift to him the very things which cause us so much discontent and concern.  The object of our concern is the greatest thing we can bring to the throne room of God - for in bringing it there, we find the answers we might not have discovered otherwise.  The SECOND thing God wants from us is to lift up those who have the responsibility for the safety of others - the government or those appointed to rule.  We often neglect this step, praying for our own needs, but failing to see the course of actions around us often need to be the object of our prayer!

Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.  (I Timothy 2:8-10 MSG)

In the raising of holy hands to God, we open ourselves to be instruments of his grace and healing in this world -  a world riddled with all manner of evil, desperately needing our influence.  Our greatest influence is through prayer.  I don't think it is by accident Paul emphasizes this several times in this chapter.  He is focusing our attention on prayer because it is where we make connection with the one who sees beginning to end even before we do.  When tragedy abounds as the result of evil in this world, grace and healing is able to abound when God's people raise holy hands in prayer before God - becoming his instruments to be used to touch a hurting world.  

Paul gets right after it:  Prayer is at the bottom of all this!  It is both our privilege to pray as much as it is our responsibility.  We have been given access to the very presence of God.  I have to ask - what are we doing with this great opportunity?  Privilege is a special "right" to enter - responsibility is the "obligation" to enter.  We have access - a full access pass - into the presence of the great "I AM".  He is our "all-becoming" one.  He is our "great redeemer".  He is our "more than enough".  We have an obligation  to connect the "all becoming one" with the hurting, those in need of deep inner cleansing and healing.  We have an obligation to connect the "great redeemer" with those held captive in messed up thought patterns, emotional turmoil, or the inability to stay connected with reality.  We have an obligation to connect our "more than enough" with those who never have realized love or been so far removed from the grace of others so as to live in isolated loneliness.

We do this through prayer - first and foremost.  Then we become the hands and feet of our prayer.  Yep, you heard me - we become the "connection" point for a hurting world to make contact with the very thing they need most - Christ!  Paul makes it quite clear - we "become" beautiful in our "doing" prayer!  When we "get after" the things God desires, we are made beautiful.  We chase beauty in many places - it is found at the feet of Jesus, exposed in prayer, and exemplified in living out our prayers!  

Over recent years, we have seen what appears to be the rise of evil in this world.  Losses innumerable to "natural disasters" such as tsunami, hurricane, and floods galore.  Homes rent apart by "unthinkable horrors" at the hands of one or two people bent on destruction with the use of weapons of all kinds.  Nations pitted against nations, seemingly unconcerned with the innocent loss of life of those caught in the middle.  Our position in all this:  PRAYER.  We take both our privilege and our responsibility seriously, not just after the tragic event, but in praying for the guidance of those who might just be placed in a position to protect, guard, and lead us through to the other side of these great tragedies.  My greatest hope is for our prayers to be effective in avoiding even one of these senseless tragedies.

So, let us pray and pray often.  Let us move from the comfort of privilege to the place of responsibility - in taking our communities and our leaders to the throne room of God.  Just prayin!