Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Many leaders are coming to a solemn consensus: Today every praying saint and every prayer movement must focus on two strategic needs facing the Church in our generation: the Crisis of Christology among God’s people; and the need for a re-awakening of believers to the supremacy of Christ for all He is. This must become our overriding passions as we seek God’s face together.
As many of you know, I've written extensively on both of these top prayer agendas in Christ is ALL! (www.ChristIsAllBook.com). Currently, I’m exploring both in-depth with gatherings of leaders across the country in our dynamic, comprehensive 48-hour intensives called The Christ Institutes (www.ProclaimHope.org).
Both passions surface recently in my morning devotions. I was meditating on Luke 19. Suddenly the two themes – the crisis and the Christ -- jumped out at me. I noted that these were the same two challenges Jesus faced on the day He rode into Jerusalem for the last time.
Therefore, I offer you my reflections from that morning, with this singular question: Is there anything here that should shape the primary concerns for which you and I pray in this hour? Is there any sense in which the “Palm Sunday” drama is repeating itself in our day? If so, how should this guide our individual intercessions and our prayer movements? How should this define our passions as we petition Heaven?
First, however, let me give you key verses from Luke 19 taken from the New Living Translation (emphasis mine):
As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. 37 When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”
39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” 40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”
41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation.”
How, here’s what I saw:
1) The Crisis of Christology -- Even Jesus could not help himself; he had to weep – weep! -- when faced with the reality that, despite the cheers of the crowd a few hours earlier, the crisis among God's people -- the crisis of their exploiting Him, diminishing Him and dismissing Him -- was so pervasive that they already were blinded to the "opportunity" God was offering to them in His Son at that very moment, They were oblivious to how in His very presence among them as their King He was ready to bring their city, Jerusalem, into the everlasting shalom (peace) God had promised them.
His weeping was over all they would forfeit of all the riches they could have experienced in Him. It was available to them as He stood in their midst, as He rode among them offering Himself as their long-expected King. But they missed it – they missed Him.
Jesus was not weeping in self-pity -- quite the opposite: He wept because He saw the consequences for them. He knew, because of how they misunderstood what His glorious supremacy was all about, God's purposes for that generation of "covenant people" would be crushed for a season, and the whole city would disintegrate as a result. (This represents another possible, but far less desirable, form of "city transformation", which we talk and pray about so often today.)
He was the only person on planet earth that day that "got it", the only one that recognized the marvelous moment right in front of God’s people. It was the "time of God's visitation" (NIV in vs. 44) to fulfill for them all God desired for them, now awaiting them in front of them in His dear Son who stood before them. But they could not see Him for who He really was (and is). It was as if He was invisible to them. And it broke His heart.
I wonder: Do we need to join with our Lord Jesus in His kind of broken-heartedness over the blindness of God’s people to the fullness of God’s Son? Is the real King Jesus “invisible” to much of the Church? Is there reason to be concerned about a critical shortfall in the Christology of Christians in our generation – a shortfall that could rob of us the very work of God in us and through us we so desperately need? Could the confronting and curing of this crisis open the floodgates for an outpouring of answers to so many of our other prayers – concerted prayers for decades for renewal and revival, for our communities and cities, for our nation and the nations?
2) The Christ to be exalted -- Those familiar words about stones "bursting into cheers" (NLT) struck me afresh as I reflected on them. What I perceived Jesus claimed about Himself, using this anthropomorphic image, is this:
The entire creation is wired to give Christ the supremacy in everything (Colossians 1:18). Not only is creation groaning to be delivered from decay into the resurrection liberation that is the destination in God’s Son of God's children (Romans 8); but it also is poised, eager, determined and even commissioned to secure His praises, one way or another, both now and even more in the Consummation.
And if necessary, according to Jesus, even before the End, hardened, brittle, lifeless rocks (without an ounce of breath in them) are prepared to become animated sufficiently to celebrate His reign, spread His fame and proclaim His name for ALL He is. Even shale testifies He is worthy of this and no less.
Obviously, initially Jesus meant this demonstration of granite gratitude metaphorically. Yet, I wonder:
Behind his words is there not an poignant prognosis: Because, Scripture is clear that a day is coming when God's Son will be given His rightful place in the universe, by the universe and from all created things that inhabit the universe -- even if, at this moment, multitudes, especially of God's people, fail to do so, just as they were oblivious to the real Jesus when He spoke these words.
May I suggest something? I am increasingly convinced that our labors today as pray-ers and prayer mobilizers must include the role of becoming “Christ proclaimers” (what I often call “Messengers of Hope”). Not only do we need to intercede for the revitalization of the Church, but, at the same time, we need to impress upon fellow believers the overriding, preeminent agenda for our life together -- the "exalting of Christ and His supremacy in all things and at all times".
This is not a fool's errand. Rather, we are joining forces with an unending symphony of His praises already ascending from rocks and stars -- from saints and angels -- in Heaven as it will one day be on earth. We collaborate with all of them every time we lift Jesus higher -- especially and primarily when we do so among those who claim Him as Lord (as well as with those who do not).
In doing so, we prepare the way for the fullest answers to all of our other prayers; even as we lay the foundation for a sustainable, transformational revival that is nothing less than the “Christ Awakening” which our generation desperately needs. (Consider Isaiah 40:1-11)
If rocks are ready to explode with tributes for ALL Jesus is (and He says they are!), how can we who know Him and love Him and serve Him remain mute any longer? In His case, silence is not golden!
In our intercessions and in our conversations – both -- we must address the crisis of Christology and we must declare the supremacy of the Christ. Paul set the example for us: "Christ we proclaim...to this end I strive with all the energy He powerfully works within me." (Colossians 1: 28-29). May it be so for each of us: by prayer and by proclamation. It will turn weeping into wonder!
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