I take this moment to briefly address the present landscape of our country and the events that took everyone by surprise on the afternoon of January 6, 2021. Yes, our country is in a precarious state – one which God alone can fix.
The event witnessed on the U. S. Capitol building looked like a scene from a Hollywood film; people storming through barricades, guards pushing back or being overtaken, people running for cover, government officials being taken to safe locations. Apart from it being torched by the British in 1814, and a shooting in 1954, the Capitol has never been breached to the extent seen yesterday.
For most of 2020 a wave of violence swept across the country, finally making its way to the place where the laws of our land are approved and legislated. Our country is divided, killings are no longer appalling, justice is broken, inordinate and perverse lifestyles are glamorized, and the loss of respect for people are the call of the day. Our country’s crisis is not an institutional or governmental one – it is a heart-centered one. Genesis 6.5 states that, “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” When addressing the matter of eating with impure hands, Jesus explained to his disciples, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated? That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man,” (Mark 7.17-23). A true end to violence, hatred, and the beginning of real change, healing, peace, and unity in our country can only occur when a humbled and repented heart is before the presence of God! Our nation, our world will never change unless men and women are changed, first and foremost, by the Triune God! All else is superficial and ineffective.
As the Church, this is our message to neighbors, the community, city, state, and country. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” said the apostle Paul (Romans 1.16). We do not back down from that statement. In addition, we are called “that entreaties and prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires that all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (1 Timothy 2.1-4). Finally, the Christian – the Church – is called to be both salt and light – salt of the earth – light of the world – now and always. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5.13-16).
If you are able please join me on Friday evening, January 8, 2021, at 7:30 pm for a time of prayer before the presence of God: prayer for our country, our Church, our walk with God. The same will be conducted via Zoom; an invite will be email to you that afternoon.
In closing, may we be ever mindful that only a turn to God will turn things around in the United States. That applies to every nation that has ever existed in the past, in the present, and in the future.
God’s peace be with you.
Pastor Tony Rivera