I think that we are all a bit shell-shocked from how the world seems to have shifted again in the last year. Like the frog that is enjoying its warm bath, the fact that the water is now boiling seems to have come as a surprise. However, the anger, racism, divisions, and mudslinging have been here all along; I believe many have just been comfortable with its levels until it went up another notch.
Words fail me these days, but I pray actions do not. Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed that “Judgement passed on another man always presupposes disunion with him; it is an obstacle to action. But the good of which Jesus speaks consists entirely in action and not judgement. Judging the other man always means a break in one’s activity. The man who judges never acts himself; or, alternatively, whatever action of his own he may be able to show, and sometimes indeed there is plenty of it, is never more than judgement, condemnation, reproaches and accusations against another man” (Ethics, 1955) These are the motives and the fruit of the Pharisee. I am often guilty of this, and I know that I am not alone.
These days, I have returned to the Sermon on the Mount, where I hope to be a listener again. I pray to be an ever-changing person; sanctified by grace, as I gaze, by faith, into the never changing face of Jesus Christ – as His heart overtakes mine until our hearts are so intertwined that I can breathe “the Beloved is mine, and I am His” (Song of Songs 2:16; 6:3).
In this place, I see that:
He pursued, when I was running away.
He has been gentle, when I was stubborn.
He has spoken, when I was silent.
He acted, when I was passive.
He loved me, when I was unlovable.
He reconciled me to the Father, and my heart began to beat for the first time.
Within the Sermon on the Mount, I have pressed into Lord’s Prayer. I often do not know how to pray. Jesus knew our proclivity to pray long prayers. Ironically, we have made this prayer into a series of prayers, forgetting the preface where Jesus says, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. [Therefore] Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:7-13 Emphasis & Brackets added)
Prayers will become actions, and actions will become prayers. But there are pieces of this world that will continue broken and disappointed until all things have finally been reconciled to the Father, by making peace through the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20).