Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Opposing the Spirit of Babylon

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. --  1 Timothy 2:1-2
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.  You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. – Matthew 5:13-14

This world is a fallen place, corruptible and corrupting, sometimes glorious, sometimes vile.  It’s not my home, but it is where I am, as much as that often annoys me.  Jeremiah had some words for the exiles that I can understand: 

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

No, this isn’t the New Jerusalem.  We are still in exile; we can’t go home yet.  We’re not really going to change the world, not the way the utopians and reformers think of changing it.  The Church – and by that I mean the mystical Body of Christ – is, though, an agent of God’s grace, an emissary offering light and life and hope to those dwelling in fear and darkness. 

I find it difficult to pray for any of the idiots in Washington or in Austin, OKC, Little Rock, Topeka, Jefferson City, Des Moines, Springfield, etc.  But they need prayer – they need it desperately, because they are idiots, for the most part.  They are people who seek or are drunk on power.  Their position is a way for them to validate their otherwise useless lives.  This is particularly evident in the case of the current resident of the White House and his posse, but they are not the first or the worst.  OK, maybe the worst I’ve seen – at least, the worst since Clinton.    

None of that releases me or any other Christian from the obligation to pray for them.  We don’t know all that goes on, and we don’t have to pray for them by name, but we do need to intercede on their behalf to the end that the citizens of this country and people around the world might live quiet lives of contentment and peace with dignity and godliness.  Our prayers are not likely to turn fools into wise men and wise women (Latina or otherwise); nor are we necessarily going to pray “our side” into office. 

Most of the people on our side have better things to do and are not drawn to getting involved in the travesty that is called “public service”.  There are, of course, those whom God calls to fill crucial positions at critical points in time.  We can usually recognize them, and we should certainly support and encourage them.  Regardless, however, of whether or not those in authority are our kind of people, we owe them, ourselves, our neighbors, and future generations the grace of our prayers on their behalf.    

We cannot take our responsibility lightly, for there is that which opposes us.  There is, as the Revelation depicts, a spirit of Babylon which would rule in suffering, chaos and blood.  We are opposed by “the rulers, … the authorities, … the cosmic powers over this present darkness, … the spiritual forces of evil”.  We cannot defeat this spirit with ballots or bullets.  That may be what it comes to at times, but the battle is already won or lost in the heavenlies. 

I’m not a prophet, and I do not know what is about to happen or where all that we are seeing is headed.  I know only what I am supposed to do:  put it all, all the officials, all the situations, all my fears into the hands of our Father through prayer.


John Lien said...

None of that releases me or any other Christian from the obligation to pray for them.

Ugh! However, you're right. But they are going to the bottom of the list -(I might forget them, or fall asleep...)

mushroom said...

Remember what Bob and MOTT say, true thoughts are prayers. You're thinking about them sometimes anyway. :)

Don Johnson said...

We just returned from 9 days in DC. On each previous visit, we could feel the power and majesty of the place and loved just standing on the Mall to soak up the American spirit. That feeling was not present this time - it's just a place with lots of free museums. Probably just me, more cynical these days, but I do think something's changed there.

mushroom said...

My wife and I were just talking about praying for leaders and all. Take the Boko Haram thing and the fact that we have American leaders working subversively to undermine the government in Nigeria just as they did in Egypt and Libya and as they meant to in Syria for the benefit of Muslim extremists, it's possibly more evil than we've ever seen.

The federal government has always done subversive stuff, and some of it was really stupid and had all kinds of negative repercussions. But it was at least in some sense in the American interest.

Van Harvey said...

"... We cannot defeat this spirit with ballots or bullets. That may be what it comes to at times, but the battle is already won or lost in the heavenlies..."

Yep. If you don't have their spirit & mind, whatever you might win with ballots or bullets will be gone in a moment.