Setting captives free

Ken Clarke

Who are the most important people in any nation? Some might say the politicians, the bankers, the Prime Minister or Taoiseach.  The Bible makes it clear that God's people. Reading from 2 Chronicles 7: 11 - 14.

Many years ago there was a Christian musical called, “Come Together”  by Jimmie and Carol Owens about God’s people from different backgrounds coming together and meeting God. 

A few years later they released a second musical called, “If my people…” - a call for people to implement and practice 1 Chronicles 7 (to humble themselves, to seek God’s face and to repent…).  King David was a believer in God but when he committee adultery, he had to repent.  Psalm 51 is the cry of a broken man but God is a God of grace who offers a fresh start and a new beginning.

Human beings suffer from BSE - blame somebody else.  So often we blame the politicians, the media, the industrialists, etc. (anybody but ourselves).

Jimmie and Carol Owens said, “It is so easy to fix the blame… on “them”… Amazingly, according to the Bible, God doesn’t seem to be nearly as concerned with straightening “them” out as He is concerned with straightening us out!  He begins the healing process with his own people.”

God has called His people to be a reflection of perfection. We are to be people who invade our culture, our community, our country. But the history of the church is littered with people who think they are to be exclusive. 

We are not to be “of” the world but the other part of that teaching is that we are to be “in” the world.  We are to be salt and light - people who make a difference. 

We are called to be lights of the world, reflecting the Light of the World.  God has called us to be people who are transforming culture.  We can make a difference in our nation. 

Joseph became a Prime Minister of Egypt who was making incredibly important decisions.  We need to have a vision of Christians becoming “decision-makers”.  Sometimes being part of the decision making process can be strategically important.  One vote can make all the difference.

Why is it that Christians want to hold back from involvement and participation?  Sometimes it is sheer laziness. If we are passionate about the kingdom of God, then we have to get our hands dirty.  We have to be willing to sit on that tedious committee in order to make a difference.

When you become a follower of Jesus Christ a bulls eye is painted on your back. Some of us are not willing to pay the price.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble but I have overcome the world.” There will be opposition, struggle, difficulty, darkness… that is normal Christian life but we also know who has won the war.  If we are willing to be involved in political life… we are going to be targets.

God says, “If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves...”  For the whole of our Christian lives, we wear L-plates.  The word disciple means learner.  There is no place for pride.

Our faith is not a hobby - it is the passion of our life.

Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Hannah… these were all people who changed nations.

Investing in family can help change a nation.  There are two great institutions: one is family and one is the state.  When families are dysfunctional, all kinds of things start to happen.  When families are working well, we can impact the nation.  Parents are huge influencers.

Reading from 1 Timothy 2: 1- 4  and 1 Peter 2: 13 - 14.

Governments exist to preserve law and order.  We need to pray that our Government will facilitate peace because that provides an opportunity for the Gospel.

Prayer is one of the primary ways in which we can influence nations.  Derek Prince wrote a book called, “Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting.”  He gave six reasons as to why we should pray:

  1. The first ministry and outreach of believers meeting together is prayer - are your church meetings marked by prayer? Do the believers believe?
  2. The first specific topic for prayer is the government.
  3. We are to pray for good government
  4. God desires all men to have the truth of the Gospel preached to them - law and order facilitates the spread of the Gospel!
  5. Bad governments hinders the preaching of the Gospel.
  6. Good government is the will of God - this is what He wants for our nations.

Question: How do we approach a situation where politicians who are “avowedly Christian” endorse un-Christian attitudes?

Answer:  I would want to write to them or go to their clinic.  In general, politicians appreciate feedback and comment from their constituents.  Many are genuine hardworking people who do want to make a difference.

Comment:  It is important to communicate graciously.  If you want to make a difference, our attitude should not be aggressive.

Question: How can we be accepted in our community and not alienated…

One of my heroes is a man called Charles Simeon who has had a huge influence on generations of people.  For his first 30 years in Cambridge, he was misunderstood.  He stuck it out.  We want everything to be fast.  If we have opposition, we leave.  When he died, not only were the lectures cancelled in the university but the shops in Cambridge closed as a mark of respect.  It took years for his credibility to be established.

When you go to a new place there are two things that are top priority:

  1. Establish credibility
  2. Demonstrate consistency

Whatever else they know, make sure they know you love them!  There will be misunderstandings.  God calls us to keep loving, showing acts of kindness, showing that we are in this for the long haul.

Great initiatives of God come about through brokenness  

Another part of changing a nation is illustrated by Nehemiah. One of the shortest verses in the bible is, “Jesus wept.”  Nations are changed when churches catch the bigger picture.  All of us have shed tears but I wonder how many of us have wept for the Kingdom’s sake. 

Nehemiah mourned and fasted for a long time.  After four months, the burden was so great that he had to do something about it.  When God moves in people’s lives and hearts, we cannot be apathetic.

It starts with a broken heart, with tears, with prayer and intercession…  God stirs something in our hearts. 

At New Wine, is the Lord igniting sparks of compassion and concern for our nations?  I don’t want my life just to be a plaything.  I want to make a difference for you God and I’m willing to pay the price.  Out of that, blessing comes.

Grace, truth and forgiveness can change a nation.  Somebody prayed, “Father, forgive them” from the cross!  The way nations will change if you and I are willing to walk the way of the cross.  This is the Jesus-way.

Changing a nation is a cross-shaped process. It will take courage, compassion, vision, heartbreak and prayer. 

There are stories of people walking together the path of peace. When you see people who have been sworn enemies, embracing one another because of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ… That is the kingdom of God at work.

Is everyone willing to give something valuable so everyone can gain something invaluable?