Matthew’s Gospel tells us that immediately after the temptation of Jesus, He began His public ministry quoting Isaiah 9:2, saying, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).
Then Jesus immediately began to preach on repentance, according to the scriptures.
Darkness is an important word in the Bible. In creation, God conquered the darkness by making light. Throughout history, individual people and whole nations were described as people living in spiritual darkness.
Before we came to know Jesus Christ personally, we lived in darkness. But Paul said God “... rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:13). When we followed Jesus’ call to repentance, God gave us His light.
It does not take much discernment to know that spiritual darkness is dominating the United States of America. As recent evidence, review the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21. At the event and at simultaneous rallies across the country, speakers were profane in their speech and vile in their message. Profound hypocrisy characterized the events.
Performing at the Washington march, the singer Madonna told the crowd she had “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House” but that it wouldn’t change anything, in her opinion.
Everything about her message exuded darkness and confusion. Christian women had every reason to avoid the event and be offended by the bad characterizations of women the speakers painted.
Any responsible person would be cautious to make such careless comments.
So far, secular media has given Madonna a pass. Either they brush her off as irresponsible or they quietly agree with her.
It is obvious that Madonna, actress Ashley Judd – who also spoke at the Washington rally – and the women who lauded them are living in the same darkness, the same spiritual blindness.
In spite of the large number of protesters in many cities, the marches appeared to be little more than a platform for the ungodly to protest the ungodliness they see in President Donald Trump’s past.
If someone’s rights were violated, the women’s protests would be justified. Absent a decent reason to protest, we only see undisciplined anger and childish whining because they did not get what they wanted. What is the value in all of the noise? Has their behavior actually galvanized Trump supporters and pushed some borderline supporters firmly into his camp?
In contrast to the protests, John Piper, who is an author and retired pastor, prayed an impromptu prayer for the nation while in a small gathering of his staff at Desiring God ministry. The prayer has been widely circulated. I want to share a portion of it with you.
Piper asked the Heavenly Father, “... that [Y]our name would be hallowed in Washington, and hallowed by Donald Trump and his family, his cabinet, the congress; that [Y]our kingdom would come, that [Y]our will would be done there.
“To that end Lord, we ask that [Y]ou would bring Donald Trump out of darkness and into light. Give him a spirit of brokenness and humility. ‘Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 18:3). ‘Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’ (John 3:3).
“I pray that you would break his heart, give him humility, show him what it feels like to be penitent and to admit he’s done wrong – to confess he was wrong, ask forgiveness from [Y]ou, and ask for forgiveness from the people that he’s wounded or people that he’s set a bad example for. He needs to be given the gift of faith and humility and repentance, and I pray that [Y]ou would give it to him.”
Piper prayed that God would “... surprise even [Trump] at what is able to be brought about. Protect him from the deceptions of the Evil One at the level of this providential governance of your way in the world, in America now. So God, I ask that the church would not rely on government and would not rely on a Trump presidency.
“I pray for evangelical leaders not to celebrate Donald Trump’s presidency with no apparent qualification, no tears, no brokenness, no sadness, that he set such an awful example for this land.”
We join Piper in his prayer.
There is darkness in the land and in the hearts of many leaders – politicians, singers, actors, business people, church people – the list is endless. The darkness can be defeated. We know because that is the testimony of every person who has welcomed the grace of God, repented of sin and experienced the new birth through Jesus.
There is much work ahead for our newly elected president and Congress. In spite of the displeasure of some, they are our leaders. We must move forward, seeking the face of God every day in the spirit of Romans 13.
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention recently published their 2017 Legislative Agenda. I would like to point out some highlights of the report and invite you to pray for this ministry and the leaders they influence in our country.
The opening paragraph says the agenda is not exhaustive, but “provides insight into the range of issues the ERLC will focus on this year.” The first category, labeled Sanctity of Human Life, itemizes six legislative initiatives. The first target is the defunding of Planned Parenthood. The summary reads, “The ERLC is committed to seeing the nation’s largest abortion provider (Planned Parenthood Federation of America) deprived of federal funds.”
Another Sanctity of Human Life goal is to see a pro-life Supreme Court nominee presented to the Congress. Four other goals are identified with the last one, the “Mexico City Policy,” which President Trump signed three days after his inauguration.
The second category is religious liberty. ERLC staff will push to repeal the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Mandate, support the Conscience Protection Act, oppose the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX, confront the sexual revolution dogma in the military and restore Russell Amendment protections.
The other categories are family and marriage, justice, and international engagement.
Targeted legislation includes women in combat, the Civil Rights Uniformity Act, Criminal Justice Reform, Payday Lending, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act, reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and fighting global antisemitism. A complete copy of the 2017 Legislative Agenda is available at ERLC.com.
Pray for the leaders who serve us in Washington, our states and our communities. Pray for those who live in darkness. Our responsibility is to be the light and to introduce them to the One who is the light of the world.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).