Thursday, June 4
“Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others”
(2 Corinthians 5:11).
You are probably familiar with the popular insurance commercials that feature a character named Mayhem who causes all kinds of trouble to persuade us to buy his insurance. Now that real mayhem is on the loose in many of our cities, it is not so amusing. We tend to take law and order for granted, and we pray this mayhem is not going to become a new normal. But what if the injustices of our society are not so much outlier exceptions as symptoms of a sin-sick system? What if all blessings that we had assumed to be well-deserved rewards were really the extraordinary interventions of a merciful and gracious God, who had been actively restraining sin’s destructive force? What if we have been taking God for granted?
We can only really consider these questions when we know what it is to fear the Lord. Anyone who knows what it is to fear the Lord will have submitted their life to humble examination in light of God’s Word. This allows the Holy Spirit to expose our deeper, inwardly contained sin, and gives us a chance to repent before the sin becomes outwardly destructive. Appreciating the extent of God’s forgiveness in Christ and the depths of God’s undeserved love for us then puts us in a position to respond to other sinners with long-suffering mercy rather than dismissive disregard or aggressive outrage.
When God’s grace changes us and we stop conforming to an unjust system, it puts pressure on the system to change. This is how Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement changed institutionalized racism. While racism may still be systemic in our culture, the principles articulated by M. L. King, Jr. will still prove effective against it. “Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Nonviolence does not seek to defeat the opponent. Nonviolence is directed against evil systems, forces, oppressive policies, unjust acts, but not against persons” (thekingcenter.org). These principles are based on Jesus’ teachings and example. For best results, they need to be combined with prayer in his Name and trust in his indwelling Spirit.
Father in heaven, thank you for all the ways you restrain sin in ourselves, our communities, and our world. Give grace for repentance, and gracious words to the repentant. Use your people to persuade others of your goodness and glory in Christ Jesus your Son.