Sunday Meditations: Ruler of the Nations

Lord, the world today does not look much like Jesus is king.

While we see flashes of compassion, many nations are ruled the way they’ve always been ruled.  Ambitious people have sought power and received it.  They do the things that keep them in power and avoid the things that they fear will make them lose it.  They marshal money, forces of arms, and harness the selfishness of others to enforce their will and put themselves at the top.

All of this operates at smaller scales as well.  Cities, corporations, families, and individuals are all possessed by these spirits.  They have become vessels for principalities and powers, and they have broken the world, and pain and death have followed after.  These are not tragic exceptions, but the norm.

Your people have turned to idols, worshiping the gods of this world and their prophets.  There is very little difference in the things that we love, fear, and protect than anyone else.  We, too, follow after Mammon.  We, too, have rallied to protect our own interests even at the expense of others.  We have given our allegiance to nations who have no intention of reflecting your kingdom, but are kingdoms in their own right.  We have promoted people and agendas and loved them and served them.  We have wanted power.  We have wanted our way.  We have condemned and ostracized.  We have shunned the needy for our own greed.  We have loved violence.  We have pushed to swell our numbers by conversion while spreading fear of faithful works.  We have loved celebrity.  We have established dynasties.  We have done all these things in the name of observing Your laws.

And I am possessed by these spirits.  I am not better than my brothers or sisters.  I have loved my own reputation.  I have put my comfort above any other considerations.  I have hoarded my wealth.  I have hoarded my time.  I have hoarded my love.  I have torn people down and drawn lines in the sand to ostracize them.  I have sought to establish myself by my own powers.  I have admired what the world admires.  I have fretted about how I might appear in the eyes of others.  Many times, my meditations are on the things that pass away.  Powers rule my life without my even thinking about them.

So it has been for some time, and to look around, it does not appear to be slackening.

And yet, how long was Israel beset by her enemies?  How long was she ruled by principalities and powers that were idolatrous?  How long did the faithful wait for a day they hoped for, but died before seeing?

And today, of all days, I remember how you brought Israel back to life.  You are a god who keeps promises.

And so I wait in hope, as well.  I may die before I see the day.  My children my grow old and die before they see the day.  And their children.  And their children.  I do not know if I will find the tomb empty tomorrow, but I hope, because I trust.

I believe in your promises and long for the renewal of the world.  I dedicate my life to that testimony, if You will but show me how to live it in my own little corner of it and give me the strength you gave to my forefathers who died with Your witness on their lips.  If You will grant me the fidelity that survives wars and poverty and disease.  I will trust You, even if I die.

Strengthen me.  Strengthen my brothers and my sisters.  Bring this world system to a close and replace it with the creation You have shown our prophets in their wildest dreams.  Raise us from the dead at the end of such faith and faithfulness for Your name’s sake.  For this, in the midst of the assembly, I praise Your name.

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