Some say 2020 is the year that doesn’t exist. Why? Because shelter in place has stripped us of school attendance, church attendance, and social interaction.
But no one will forget this year. It will go down in the history books for many reasons.
First, everyone felt the impact of Kobe Bryant’s death in January.
Then, we watched as NY was hit hard by COVID-19 and the world went into a panic.
And then, we watched as two men chased Ahmed Arbery through a neighborhood and they shot him.
Last week, the world watched as George Floyd was killed by a police officer on the streets of Minneapolis.
Our nation is in a season of unrest and hurt, angry people are lashing out because they don’t know how to find a solution to the evil in a man’s heart.
So, I ask … where’s the church?
If 2020 goes down in history, what will the history books say about the presence of the church?
I’ve heard and seen many opinions. I’ve heard what people have to say about pandemics, fear, racism, rioting, looting and government regulations.
But what we must ask ourselves is what does God expect from the church? What does God require of the Christian who bears His name?
Because 2020 is a year that exists. It’s a year the church has the opportunity to present a cure, hope, and unify the human race.
So, what does God expect from us … the Christian in 2020, and what does He expect from the church?
The answer is simple. So I want you to bear with me as I share this because it’s going to seem cliche at first. It’s going to start with something you know all too well … but I pray you understand there’s more to this than what you’ve always heard.
First, we are in the mess we’re in today because the church has stopped being the church.
The church has stopped speaking and sharing God’s word and we do a better job at sharing memes, opinions, and words from other sources.
How do we know that? Because that’s pretty heavy to put the mess we’re in today on the backs of the church, right?
We have to turn to 2 Chronicles 7:14 to find out why the church has a responsibility and what we can do to change the world.
Most of you know what it says. So, I’m going to start by breaking down what it says and then move in to what it doesn’t say because what it doesn’t say sends a powerful message as well.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
First, we have to look at the word ‘if’. If is conditional. It depends on someone and in this case it depends on God’s people.
And not just any people … the people who are called by His name. Do you know the name you’re called by when you claim Christianity? You’re being called by the name of Christ.
God is not speaking to the sinner. He is telling us that if His people will pray … He will hear.
But He doesn’t stop there. He says if they will:
Humble themselves. Humility means we know we don’t have the answer but we know the one who does. Humility drives us to our knees and instead of fighting the spiritual battle with our fingertips, we fight it in prayer.
Without humility, we will not listen to our brother/sister. We won’t bear one another’s burdens and we will not empathize with them.
It also tells us we will pray when we’ve humbled ourselves. It tells us we will seek His face as we pray because we know that there is no other book, no other word, no other movement, no other influencer … that has the answer, but the One whose face we seek.
And finally, it tells us that we will turn from our wicked ways. God doesn’t only care that we say the right things … He cares that we LIVE them.
Jesus told the religious leaders of His day in John 10:38, “If you don’t believe Me, believe the works that I do because they testify of Me.”
It is the same with the Christians today: Our works should testify that God is the one leading our lives. Our works should testify to the glory of God.
And then …. He will hear from heaven and heal our land.
When we look at this verse we automatically think it’s only about prayer. But it’s not just about what we should do, but where it originates from .. a heart of humility.
It’s to first humble ourselves. If the world grows darker, what does that say about the church?
This verse also implies the opposite. So, if God is not healing our land, what does that say of the people who are called by His name? What does that say of the Christian?
We are full of pride and pride exalts itself against the knowledge of God.
I have seen more Christians this week repost the news, opinions, memes, quotes of other people … but not the Word and knowledge of God. Pride exalts itself over everything. Pride is a condition of the human heart and it’s the reason we’re in the mess we’re in.
Why isn’t the church sharing the knowledge of God? When we long to be heard more than to hear the heart of our brothers and sisters, we are not humbling ourselves.
This verse also implies that the church isn’t praying.
It takes humility in prayer to reach the heart of God.
Jesus gives us an example of how to pray in Luke 18:9-13 when He talked about the Pharisee who prayed and said, “God, thank you that I’m not like this tax collector.”
The Pharisee was a thief. He was a religious ruler who only spoke the word but inside he was full of dead mens bones. He had no humility but elevated himself by pointing to the flaws of another man.
But the tax collector beat his chest and said, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” And Jesus went on to say that this man went home justified because he humbled himself and when he did God exalted him.
And finally, the verse implies our land isn’t healed because we don’t turn from our wicked ways.
It’s not enough to say that we’re Christians anymore. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James also said faith without works is dead. What we believe and what we live should line up and when they do, there’s an impact of the church.
The church in Acts turned the world upside down. They made history. COVID-19 will make history in 2020. Racism will make history in 2020. Kobe Bryant’s death will make history in 2020. We will see all those things written in the history books.
But the greater question is will the church be mentioned for the impact we’ve made in 2020?
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