What do these imagines invoke inside of you? Anger? Hatred? Fear? Worry? Sorrow? We have a systemic problem. No it is not racism and no it is not just a problem in America. We have a sin problem. From this problem stems all of these issues. Our disobedience to God distorts and destroys the amazing way we were created. Now we need to still address the current issue that is facing Americans but we must do so from a point of view that also seeks to address the underlying cause. No we cannot just declare that we must address the issue of sin and ignore the symptoms, but we cannot only treat the symptoms either.
Jesus sets the example for us (as always) with this idea of addressing both sin and the symptoms. Matthew 9:2-8 tells us the story of the paralytic man brought to Jesus by his friends.
2 And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” 7 And he stood up and went to his home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.Matthew 9:2-8 NRSV
Did you catch what Jesus did for the man? First he forgives the man of his sins. That is important and was the primary reason Christ came in human flesh. Jesus was working to restore a right (shalom) relationship with creation. BUT!!! That is is not all. Jesus then says, “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”… then he immediately heals the man of the symptoms caused by sin.*
*A brief side note on this statement. I am not saying that the man sinned in such a way that caused him to be a paralytic. It is entirely possible but we do not have the information to make such a claim. No what I am pointing towards is that sin caused God’s creation (aka us) to have brokenness and that brokenness takes many forms, including physical problems with our bodies. It does not mean when someone has an issue, they somehow sinned (remember the story of Job?) but rather that they are suffering from the brokenness that sin has caused in the world.*
So as we face turmoil across our country surrounding police brutality and racism, we must take a duel approach to the issue. Yes we must address the symptoms of these horrible acts that mistreat and degrade and hurt people. Yet we cannot forget or deny that the sin is the ultimate reason we are facing these issues and only by submitting to the Lordship of Christ can it be dealt with.
So what do we do?
Well did you read the title? We enter into a time of prayer and fasting. Something really cool has come about because of this problem. I have never before been apart of a church that has had the call from the global heads to call for a day of prayer and fasting. Sure there has been times of prayer but for an entire denomination to call for all of their churches to have a day of prayer and fasting is amazing. So this is what we do.
We pray and we fast. Sunday June 7th is a global day of prayer and fasting for the Church of the Nazarene and I encourage others to join us as well. May we seek God and his guidance in this time of trouble. May we be open to the Lord’s will and push aside all of our prejudices and emotions because we are a people who submit to God and His word above all else. People are hurting and the answer is the Kingship of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that this day of prayer and fasting helps unite us across the world to help end injustices and spread the Gospel of Christ.
Until then, listen to this song by For King and Country.