Friday, June 29, 2007

Prayer and Citizen-Siblings

The Fourth of July, Independence Day for The United States, will arrive and fanfare will commence. A 231st birthday celebration is next week. Most will agree that citizenship involves more than just showing up at the birthday party each year.

What makes a country great? The laws of the land? Have perfect societies ever existed? Only in fiction. Look under “M” and read about Sir Thomas More’s island of Utopia.

Do we expect faultless legislation from men and women, imperfect beings like the rest of us? They eat their cornflakes one spoonful at a time. They do great some days and stumble before noon on others.

The good news is that we can do more than hope for better living conditions. First, pray for the rulers of countries. Paul wrote to Timothy: “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,” and he called for Christians to pray for “kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2).

Also, Paul said praying for rulers opens avenues for folks to know about God. Prayer is the locomotive that precedes the arrival of truth.

The second thing is citizen-to-citizen respect, reflecting familial love. A sham-question in Genesis chapter 4 and Ruth Bell Graham’s rebuttal lead to understanding about respect for one another. After Cain killed his brother Abel, God came to Cain with a question:

“Where is your brother Abel?”

Cain lied, “I don’t know,” and then he asked this sham-question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Ruth Bell Graham wrote these words in reply to Cain’s travesty:

“'AM I my brother’s keeper?'
No. He was his brother’s brother.
Zoos have keepers.
Bees have keepers.
Prisons have keepers.
Only families have brothers."

What makes countries exceptional? Better birthdays, more confetti, more fireworks? Two things will help: prayer and a sense of family from sea to shining sea.

Most likely we’ll never rule a country or county, but each day we can bring about change by praying for our leaders, and choosing to respect our “siblings.”

Here’s to a Happy Fourth of July and year full of prayer and brotherly love.

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