It’s not uncommon to hear about some scandal in the Church. Whether it’s a small issue that only local congregants know about, or a large one that receives national media attention, it is not uncommon to be reminded that the Church is made up of sinners and as such there are going to be times where we, and God, are disappointed by its members’ actions.
When I hear about such incidents, one of my first responses is to pray for the people involved. I ask that God would be glorified even in the midst of the hurt and the embarrassment. If it is something that is played out on the national stage, I also often ask that those who speak representing the Church would do so in a way that demonstrates God’s holiness and not in a way that is fodder for soundbites and pundits. I believe that this is an appropriate response. After all, while people may let us down, God never will. Our dependent should be on God alone and these circumstances often serve as a reminder of that fact.
However, I’ve recently been convicted that praying after the events occur is not enough. While asking God to redeem a situation is appropriate, it would be better if I were praying against them before they ever occurred. It would be good for me to be regularly lifting up those in positions of influence and authority – in the church I attend and in the Church around the globe. It would be wise if I did not merely react to these situations, but sought to proactively pray against the devil’s influence and strongholds in people’s lives. I need to not only respond after the fact, but I need to be mindful of where vulnerabilities may lie and to pray that God would work in those individuals’ lives before those vulnerabilities are exploited and the Kingdom of God is marred as a result.
Having this proactive approach requires diligence. It is much easier to simply watch as scandals unfold, shake my head, and pray that God would restore and redeem in those circumstances. However, being proactive about my prayers not only petitions for God’s hand in circumstances before scandal occurs, it makes me more mindful of what I am doing to represent God and His Kingdom well. It reminds me that although my life may not play out in the news media, there are people who’s impression of Christ is being formed by the way I behave. And I need to be proactive about praying that I would represent Him well too.