Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Work of Intercession

We've talked a lot about Moses as a good and faithful leader, and we saw even yesterday how quickly and instinctively he falls on his face for his people. In fact, it might even be fair to say that as often as we see Moses standing before his people, we see him face-down before the Lord. At least. 

But here's the thing: he didn't have to. 

Moses didn't have to once intercede for his people. He could have just left them to their own consequences. He could have just let them be and let whatever was going to happen to them happen to them. He could have just left it alone and focused on his own relationship with the Lord. After all, he was not in any personal danger (with perhaps one exception) of becoming a victim himself of God's wrath. His life wasn't in jeopardy. His well-being wasn't threatened. 

He was faithful. He was doing things right. He was hoping and believing and trusting and obeying, just like everyone else ought to have been doing. And he'd told them they ought to be doing it. He'd done what he was supposed to do. If they didn't want to listen and so wanted to cut themselves off from God, it could have easily been no skin off of his back. 

But these were his people. And Moses, though he was not implicated in nor responsible for their sin, felt a tremendous burden for them, and so he fell on his face and prayed on their behalf. 

This is one of those humilities of spirit that we've all but lost in today's individualized Christianity. We have stopped interceding for one another. 

And we're not talking here about the prayer list, which is a beast unto its own self (and often creates more problems than it solves). We're not talking about interceding for the needs or concerns of others, praying for cancer treatments and financial problems and addiction recovery and weight loss and whatever. We're talking about interceding for the holiness and the faith of the community God has given us. 

When was the last time you prayed for someone else's faith? Not a faith tied to a circumstance, but a faith nestled in the heart. 

Moses prays for the way the people live. He prays for the way their hearts turn. He prays for their obedience and understanding. He prays for their action and love. He prays for their mercy and forgiveness, and for God's mercy and forgiveness for them. Have you ever prayed for someone else to experience God's mercy?

If you have, you're among the few. Because in our modern Christianity, we're taught that what you do with God is between you and God. Your relationship with Him is yours and yours alone. Your faith is a private matter, and you can't judge the way someone else believes. We're taught to leave matters of faith alone, even among the faithful, and just let them be whatever they are, and so we have abandoned one another to the limits of our own imaginations and we require nothing more from each other than a simple confession that we do, in some way or another, "believe." 

Oh, then, you must be a Christian. I mean, if you "believe" and everything.

And yet, we are a people who simply haven't seen God move the way that He used to. In fact, it's one of the things that troubles us about our modern Christianity, although we have been told to accept it and to simply wait for the end of all things until we see Him again. 

Friends, He's not moving because we're not praying. We're not interceding for one another. We're not falling down on our faces and crying out over the way that we, as a community, believe. We're too busy convincing ourselves that it's not our problem, not our concern, not our care. Because hey, we believe, and we're not in danger of paying the price for their failures of faith. 

But oh, we are. Moses prayed because he knew that the only way to see God work in this people was to pray for them to be a people through whom God could work. The same is still true today. If we want to see God move in our world, we have to be a people who pray for our community to be a people through whom God can move. That means praying for the faith of one another, falling face down in intercession for our collective holiness. 

Can you do that? 

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