By Francis Frangipane
Today, multitudes of fine "Bible-believing" Christians think nothing of venting their anger and bitterness toward America and its sins. Understandably, there has been much to grieve over. We should be deeply troubled, like Lot, with the "conduct of unprincipled men" (2 Pet. 2:7). We should at least be moved to tears and prayer, if not anointed action.
Yet the moment we think our warfare is "against flesh and blood," or begin to call for divine wrath against people, we step outside the will of God. Indeed, when Jesus' disciples asked for fire to fall on the Samaritans, He told them plainly, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of" (Luke 9:55).
This is exactly our problem: church people do not know the difference between a judgmental spirit and the Spirit of Christ, the Redeemer. Indeed, we are not sent as Old Testament prophets, calling fire and judgment down on sinners.
Although America is guilty of many sins, only One is worthy to break the seals and open the book of God's wrath: the slain Lamb standing before God's throne (see Revelation 5). Until He opens the book, we must pray for mercy; until we become lamb-like, our judging is misguided.
This does not mean we should minimize the wantonness that has spread through our society. Sin cannot be glossed over or ignored. Yet it is precisely because sin is utterly vile that we must stand before God in intercession.
The Life of Christ
Intercession is the essence of Christ's life. Indeed, our heavenly Father beheld the depravity of mankind's sin. He did not excuse it. He examined it carefully, and then sent His Son in the form of a man and He died for it. He calls us to pattern our lives after His. You see, we are not minimizing sin when we maximize Christ's mercy. We are not white-washing sin; we are blood-washing it.
James tells us, "Mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). To live the life of mercy plays perfectly into the heart of God. Mercy precisely fulfills the divine purpose: to transform man into the Redeemer's image.
Throughout His life, Jesus reached out to people who were left out. He loved those whom others despised and excluded. Yet His practice of dining with sinners offended the Pharisees, and they confronted Jesus' disciples: "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?" (Matt. 9:11).
When Jesus heard the question, He answered, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt. 9:12–13).
He told the self-righteous to go and learn what God meant when He said, "I desire compassion (mercy), and not sacrifice." A religion without love is an abomination to God.
The House of Prayer
Jesus said His Father's house would be a "house of prayer for all the nations" (Mark 11:17). True prayer is born of love and comes in the midst of sin and need. It comes not to condemn, but to cover. All nations sin. All cultures have crises. Yet these times can become turning points if, in the time of distress, intercessors cry to God for mercy. Thus, prayer brings redemption from disaster.
The church is created, not to fulfill God's wrath, but to complete His mercy. Remember, we are called to be a house of prayer for all nations. Consider passionately this phrase: "prayer for." Jesus taught, "pray for" those who persecute and mistreat you. Paul tells us that God desires all men to be saved. Therefore, he urges that "entreaties and prayers . . . be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority" (1 Tim. 2:1–2). When Job "prayed for" his friends, God fully restored him (Job 42). We are to "pray for" the peace of Jerusalem (Ps. 122:6) and "pray for" each other, that we may be healed (James 5:16).
"But," you argue, "America is a modern manifestation of ancient Babylon." I disagree. But even if it was, when the Lord exiled Israel to Babylon, He said, "Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you . . . and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare" (Jer. 29:7).
Over and over again the command is to pray for, not against; not vindictively, but mercifully; not condemningly, but compassionately, appealing to God to bring forgiveness and redemption. The problem is that too many Christians have become disciples of the news media rather than followers of Jesus Christ. We think conforming to our political party is the same as attaining the standards of God. It is not.
Study Isaiah 53. It reveals in wondrous detail the Savior's nature: Christ numbered Himself with sinners. He interceded for transgressors. He is "with" us and "for" us, even when He must reveal to us our iniquity.
But the world sees a church with rocks in its hands looking for adulterers and sinners. We have become the "church of the angry Christians." In the drama that is unfolding in America today, we have not been playing the role of Christ, but rather the part of the Pharisees. Let us drop the rocks from our hands, then lift our hands, without wrath, in prayer to God (1 Tim. 2:8).
Prayer for the President
God does not want us to be judgmental; He wants us prayer-mental. As instinctively as we judge people, we should pray for them instead. Today, countless Christians are angry with their elected officials. We say our anger is "righteous indignation." Really? Jesus expressed "righteous indignation" for, perhaps, three to four hours during His ministry. Once was for the hardness of people's hearts, and the other two times were at the temple when the Father's house was used for something other than redemptive prayer (Mark 11:17). How long has your anger lasted? Are you sure your love has not grown cold? Are you sure you are not seeking to justify a root of bitterness?
"Well," some argue, "our President has sinned." When Paul called for prayer for kings in 1 Timothy 2, Nero was emperor of Rome. Nero was one of the most corrupt men that ever lived. He did not have a "secret affair," he had public orgies. At night he illuminated his banquets with living torches -- Christians, who were tarred and then set ablaze on poles while Nero and his guests dined! Yet Paul wrote, "Pray for kings and all who are in authority."
Some may misread my words, assuming I think there is nothing wrong in the White House or in our society. My concern is not as much with the White House as with the Lord's house! If you are not praying for the President, the least you can do is to stop cursing him. As it is written, "You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people" (Acts 23:5). The Father's house is a house of prayer for kings and all in authority. It must also become a source of redemptive prayer for imperfect presidents who sin.
I can understand the reason for anger toward the President in thinking he is not doing his job. But by not praying for him, we are not doing our job. When you call for God to judge America, when judgment comes, remember it begins "with the household of God" (1 Pet. 4:17). To pray for God to judge America for its sins actually initiates judgment on the church for its sins! He says, "Judgement will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13).
Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, America at the Threshold of Destiny. This book was published in 1999; it is outdated and out of print. Several chapters have been updated and are in The Power of One Christlike Life. But we still have limited copies available at www.arrowbookstore.com.