Does it seem that crises are erupting all around the world? That's because they are.
Around the Muslim world: the ground war in Gaza continues, as Hamas deploys missiles capable of reaching 80 percent of Israel. ISIS is advancing in Iraq while fighting continues in Syria. Afghanistan is embroiled in an electoral crisis that threatens to return the country to civil war. Pakistan, a nuclear power, is dealing with the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. Negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program have reached a critical point and could collapse. Hezbollah is watching Israel's conflict with Hamas as it decides whether or not to respond; its missiles would be much more difficult for Israel's Iron Dome to defend.
Meanwhile, global anger is growing after the attack on Malaysia Airlines flight 17 as a new Cold War with Russia seems plausible. China is intensifying its territorial claims in the South China Sea and East Asia. Anti-Israel protesters in France recently burned Jewish-owned shops and damaged a railway station. Italy has rescued more than 70,000 migrants fleeing North Africa this year. And the border crisis in America continues.
Some are comparing the present day to the late 1970s, when Russia invaded Afghanistan, Iranian revolutionaries took the U.S. embassy hostage, and Southeast Asia was reeling after the U.S. exit from Vietnam. Others liken it to 1914, when territorial disputes in the Balkans sparked World War I. Critics charge that President Obama's global leadership has been weak and ineffective. His supporters claim that the U.S. is the one country that's providing leadership in each of the present crises.
Whether the president is doing all he should is a question for others to debate. I'm focusing on a different question: is the Church doing all we should?
Are we praying with fervent intercession for our leaders, as Scripture requires (1 Timothy 2:1-2)? Are we praying for the "peace of Jerusalem," as God's word mandates (Psalm 122:6)? Are we praying for our sisters and brothers who live in conflict, asking God to protect them and use their witness as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16)? Are you? Have you asked God what else he wants you to do to be his hands and feet in this day of crisis?
Bill Hybels, founder of one of the largest churches in Christian history, often claims that "the local church is the hope of the world." Not because of who we are, but because of Whose we are. Because the gospel is the only message that can turn terrorists into missionaries (the Apostle Paul), hedonistic sinners into great theologians (St. Augustine), reluctant politicians into transformational reformers (William Wilberforce), a pop singer into a global philanthropist (Bono), an atheist into one of the world's most famous Christian scientists (Dr. Francis Collins).
President Kennedy claimed that "our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man." President Clinton told the nation, "There's nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what's right with America." I respectfully disagree. Jesus is the only answer to mankind's great problems, the only hope for a world in turmoil. He alone can save any soul, heal any heart, reconcile any enemy.
From his crucifixion to this present moment, he has been working to draw all people to himself (John 12:32-33). How will you join him today?
Publication date: July 22, 2014
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