In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the all too familiar calls for prayer and political change have rung out. As Pentecostals we believe in the transformative power of prayer. However, in times like these it is often difficult to put into words the full extent of what we are feeling or want to say. This is made especially difficult when there are issues requiring prayer and attention that have been plaguing our society for years. We here at ECCLĒSIAM want to help you find your voice and a foundation upon which we can act. The following prayer is inspired by the Prayer of St. Francis and reflects the situations which we find ourselves in today. We ask that you pray this prayer with us, meditating on its words and finding ways in which we can all put it into action.
The terrifying reality of racism still plagues our world today. Even among Christians, racial prejudice is all too common. Why has this dangerous sentiment seeped into a community founded on the teaching of “love thy neighbor?” What actions can we take to demonstrate a cruciform life to a world and a church that are hostile to the message of Christ?
Black History Month for me had been an annual moment in February of reflection on the historical accomplishments of African American men and women who had achieved great accomplishments in history. It was a time of celebration because so much had been accomplished for men and women of color with abolition of slavery, the civil rights era, desegregation of schools, voter’s rights, and the list goes on. Lest we celebrate too quickly, there is a human dignity that Dr. King expressed that we the American people are still seeking today.
People commonly find the beginning of the year as a great time to turn over a new leaf. The metaphorical slate is essentially wiped clean. While these commitments are outwardly beneficial, I would like for us to take a step back and become aware of our motivations for these resolutions. Do we perhaps make New Year’s resolutions with hopes to fill an internal void that we all inevitably feel?
Recently, on November 25th, Fidel Castro, the revolutionary and long-standing political leader of Cuba, passed away. With such a political history, one that also included much persecution and pain for large groups of people, it should come as no surprise that there are people who are celebrating his death. However, as Christians, how are we supposed to react in times of death? Are we supposed to cheer on the death of those who are persecutors?
Human life is in danger due to its loss of love, respect, and affirmation. For life to flourish it must be valued, and cherished. What are the challenges facing humanity that threaten the sanctity of life? Furthermore, what should be humanity’s responses in order to consistently choose life over that which promotes death?
There is a vast dialogue in the public square between different people groups and the church about so many vast and complex issues. However, there is one concept that is heard over and over: we must learn to tolerate one another. But is tolerance the paradigm that we as Christians and members of a society and a culture can rely on?
Often times, the most challenging person to accept is ourselves. We learn that our own self can be one of the hardest people out of everyone to love. Yet, when we come to realize that God already knows us, really relationally knows us as we are, and yet still loves us, maybe we can look at our messiness, and brokenness and even venture into these dark places without fear. We can in turn see the dark places in others and love beyond our humanly capacities.
The discipleship process usually entails three things: an invitation to salvation, encouragement to enter a small group, and finally an invitation to serve at church. This process and ones similar to it has helped hundreds of young people form life-giving relationships with Jesus Christ. However, there is an unspoken understanding that after this short, allotted amount of time a person was supposed to have their life together and be a fully perfect “disciple of Christ”. Discipleship must also include the understanding that we are all human, and we will all fail. How we handle those failure is key.
While God hates the injustice of human trafficking, He loves the person who is forcing men, women and children into sex trafficking. And that should give us hope. How we think, how we speak, and how we act must reflect that. God has called us to love the person who is perpetrating oppression just as much as we love and fight for those who are being oppressed.