Did you think to pray?

Dallas prayers

 

Late Thursday evening, as bedtime approached for many, gunfire rang out in downtown Dallas. In an apparent response to violence against black lives, a shooter (or multiple shooters), took aim at Dallas Police officers, injuring 12. The trouble continued well into the morning and we awoke to the news that 5 officers had been killed.

This article makes no attempt to clarify the issues surrounding the racial tensions of our country, it’s only purpose is to ask; DID YOU THINK TO PRAY? In our songbooks we have a song of the same title. The scriptural reference for this song is Philippians 4:6.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

So, did you? Did you think to pray as peace has seemingly turned to chaos? For Christians, prayer is our first line of defense against chaos. Prayer should be continually offered by those calling themselves the children of God. It’s commanded; “Pray without ceasing.” [1Thessalonians 5:17]

Certainly we offered prayers for our family, friends and the innocent who may have been affected by the violence. Friends (sisters in Christ) of mine were mere blocks away from the Dallas shooting. Is that where our prayers ended? DID YOU THINK TO PRAY for the others? Did you pray for the police officers, the peaceful protesters, or the myriad of others caught in the crossfire? DID YOU THINK TO PRAY for the shooter? We are commanded to pray, but those prayers are to go beyond just the folks we like. Our Lord and Master taught;

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you[Matthew 5:44]

It may be difficult to pray for someone who has committed such heinous violence, just as it’s difficult to pray for those with whom we don’t agree, but the command is there. Can we ignore the commands we find uncomfortable? As a matter of fact, Christians ought to pray for ALL MANKIND…

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth[1Timothy 2:1-4]

It’s good that we pray for those we may call enemy, or those we dislike, along with those we love. It’s good because it’s nearly impossible to hold hatred in your heart for whose whom you’re praying. That is good, our God is so wise, for it’s hate that is the promoter of violence [Proverbs 10:12]. Hate can end in our prayers. It’s only then can we experience peace.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus[Philippians 4:7]

Remember to Pray.

spencer

San Bernardino & The Problem of Evil

HOURS AFTER THE SHOOTING in San Bernardino, cries for the victims lit up social media. Political rhetoric was also spewed, yet there were also calls for prayer for the victims and for our land. Unfortunately, alongside those petitions for God’s help, shouts that God doesn’t help rang from the voices of the unbelievers. Even the New York Daily News printed a headline, “God isn’t fixing this.” Here’s just one example of many twitter complaints against prayer…. 

V1-47 12-06-15 Borger Bulletin the problem of evil TWITTER blog

V1-47 12-06-15 Borger Bulletin the problem of evil HEADLINE

Why didn’t God stop the San Bernardino shooting?

This exemplifies part of our trouble with our evangelism, the problem of evil. The argument goes like this, “If God exists, then why is there evil (like this shooting in San Bernardino)?” It is a valid question. It’s an objection that many people have and without a legitimate answer, will keep many without hope. We need to be able to answer this question. It’s going to come up for you, as folks wrestle with understanding during troubling events such as this.

We have hope, because God has given it to us [1Peter 3:15], so let’s consider some answers to this question, the problem of evil: 

Answer #1: The question itself actually proves the existence of God, rather than disproves Him. The fact that people recognize evil means that they understand good. Without God, there can be no such thing as good or evil. 

If Evil exists, as they cry against it, then there must also be a good. If there is good and evil, there must be a standard (absolute moral law) by which to differentiate the two. If there is an absolute moral law, there must be an absolute moral law giver, GOD. If there is no absolute Moral Law Giver, then there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, then there is no good nor evil. 

Answer #2: Love & free will. Love is the greatest ethic. 1Co 13:13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 

This truth is recognized by every person on the face of the planet. Paul suggested that some things had no laws against them; Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. 

In order to have LOVE, you must have the freedom to NOT LOVE. This is contained in our FREE WILL. Otherwise you just have automatons, instinctually motivated animals. FREE WILL is one of the greatest gifts received from God. With the ability to choose LOVE, comes the ability to go against it. With that comes all the problems (evil) that are associated with not loving. 

When FREE WILL exists, LOVE can also exist along with EVIL, and since the original question suggests that there is an ABSOLUTE MORAL LAW, God also exists. 

God has given mankind freedom of choice. He gave Adam and Eve the freedom of choice. [Genesis 2:16-17] Their choice was plain — obey and live or disobey and die. Their choice was made through and by their own will having been influenced by Satan. Who is willing to say that since God foreknew the outcome that He forced or ordained Adam and Eve to sin? We commit evil by our own desires and lusts [James 1:13-14]. Mankind today still has freedom of choice. [Joshua 24:15] People can choose today whether or not they will serve God. [Revelations 22:17] Both the Psalmist [Psalm 119:30] and Mary, the sister of Martha [Luke 10:42], are examples of this principle. 

God’s grace has appeared to all people [Titus 2:11] yet millions reject it. Each person is accountable to the Gospel call [2Thessalonians 1:8, 14; John 12:47-48]. Those who reject the teachings of Jesus are held responsible [John 5:24; 8:24] The Bible teaches us that each person is free to choose to obey the gospel, or not to take advantage of God’s grace. It clearly shows one may resist God’s grace, His truth and His authority [Acts 7:51; Romans 13:2; 2Timothy 3:8]. 

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
2Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

These verses teach that man has free will to choose. With the ability to choose, we can choose evil (as this couple did in San Bernardino) or we can choose to do good. 

Answer #3: God will bring every work into judgement. God is the Judge of all [Hebrews 12:23]. All shall bow at Jesus’ feet, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,” [Philippians 2:10; John 5:22, 27]. And every person shall be judged, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” [2Corinthians 5:10] 

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 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. [Romans 12:19]

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 We as Christians can take comfort knowing that God is real, God is not dead, He is in power and that He will repay every evil. Let Him have His way with thee. [1Peter 5:6]

Spencer Blackwelder
evangelist for the Franklin St. Church of Christ in Borger, Texas