The Answer May Help Us Pray More Passionately for God’s Will in Our Lives, Churches, Communities, and Nation
By Dale Reeves
Earlier this month, Trevor DeVage challenged our church to pray every day for a week, “God, break my heart with the things that break your heart!” That’s not a safe or easy prayer. It’s not consistent with the God-please-bless-me-and-take-care-of-my-needs-and-answer-my-prayers-the-way-I-want-you-to Christianity that many American believers have grown accustomed to.
I can’t claim to know everything that breaks God’s heart, but I know one must be when I try to hide from him and go my own way—as Adam and Eve did in the garden. If I wrote about everything that breaks God’s heart, this would be a very long article! But I’d like to offer just a few thoughts on this topic.
Whether or not the candidates you voted for in the general election won (or will ultimately win) their respective elections, do you feel good about the state of our country? I doubt that very many people would respond yes to that question. Like many of my fellow Christian brothers and sisters, I grieved after the elections . . . not about who won or lost the presidency or other political offices, but rather about the state of affairs in which we find ourselves. Scandalous behavior. Harsh accusations. Actions and reactions that represent the opposite tactic of King Solomon: “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1, New Living Translation).
Solomon prayed, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9, English Standard Version).
Every leader in our country should be praying that prayer. But we seem more focused on whether a particular state is red, blue, or purple than whether or not officeholders are concerned about pleasing God through the way they treat people and enact laws and policies. It has been sad to watch this kind of division in our country simmer for years and then boil over to scald many lives, families, and churches along the way.
DIVISION OF THE BODY
One thing is even sadder than that: the division I have witnessed among people who claim to be brothers and sisters in the church. We so easily forget our struggle is not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). COVID-19 has provided the perfect storm for Satan to carry out his destructive work in our churches, homes, and nation. He works so well when he can isolate us from one another.
One of our Lord’s last prayers before taking our sins upon himself was this:“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:20-21, NLT).
The purpose of Christian unity is to be more like Jesus so “the world will believe.” It’s astonishing how many brothers and sisters have unfriended or unfollowed people on Facebook over politics. A friend of mine remarked, “People are watching how we as Christians act and deciding if they want anything to do with the God we proclaim to love.”“People are watching how we as Christians act and deciding if they want anything to do with the God we proclaim to love.” Click To Tweet
Author Madeline L’Engle said, “We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
Sin breaks God’s heart. All sin. No one is immune from sin—it transcends political parties. One word for sin in the Bible is lawlessless. Our culture has turned its back on the sanctity with which God created every life; our nation is willing to discard lives that have been created in his image. It breaks God’s heart, and so do the sins of adultery within marriages, homosexuality, rebellion and godlessness, racism, sex trafficking of innocent children, and the list could go on and on. (See Galatians 5:19-21.)
God’s heart breaks for those who are in bondage to sin patterns and addictions that not only destroy their lives but also crush the families who love them. When we throw off God’s basic rules for what’s right and wrong, our society collapses in upon itself. When people say, “I can’t believe they did this or that,” I respond, “Unfortunately, I’m not shocked anymore. When you no longer believe in absolute truth from God, then anything is up for grabs.”
The solution for every person is to own their own sin, repent of it, and confess it to God. Make no mistake, there is always forgiveness available to every single one of us, but the consequences of our sin still must be dealt with. We reap what we sow.
The United States of America has not learned the lessons God laid out in Scripture. America’s present situation reminds me of the period of the judges in the Bible: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25, NLT). It is sad indeed when more and more people say, “We don’t need God in our state!”
In 1986, evangelist Vance Havner said,
People used to blush when they were ashamed. Now they are ashamed if they blush. Modesty has disappeared and a brazen generation with no fear of God before its eyes mocks at sin. We are so fond of being called tolerant and broad-minded that we wink at sin when we ought to weep.
Those words from more than 30 years ago seem even more relevant today. They were true more than 2,600 years ago when the prophet Jeremiah grieved over the people of God. He wrote, “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (Jeremiah 8:21-22).
The answer for them is the same for our country today. We as a nation have not repented. God wasn’t joking when he spoke of the great need for repentance through his prophets, and he still is looking for repentance from us. Here’s the truth: there are consequences for bad behavior. Yes, we can be forgiven of our sins through the blood of Jesus, but God still expects repentance. There won’t be any long-lasting solutions until we as a nation repent and until we as individuals confess our pride before him.
Are you burdened and grieved today over the things that burden the heart of God? Have you looked in the mirror and accepted the heart surgery God needs to perform on you, praying, “Break my heart, O God”?
My hope does not rest in any political officeholder; it rests in Jesus alone. And that’s why I want to know what breaks his heart.
Dale Reeves serves as story pastor with Christ’s Church, Mason, Ohio.