This past weekend during our Bible class at Bethel, we had a conversation which I wish could have been had in every Christian gathering around our country.
Our pastor (currently on sabbatical) and a few other individuals connected to Bethel, the Prayer League, LINC – Twin Cities, and other ministries in the area were privileged to join the Minnesota delegation that attended the National Prayer Breakfast this year. They were blessed by this experience. And we were blessed by the report they brought home.
One of those in attendance gave us a glowing report about the three-day event. Additionally, he informed us of the history and intentions of the event. If I could capture here the totality of that hour’s discussion, I would. It was quite informative and encouraging.
Did you know that a number of Congressional members (regardless of political affiliation) gather weekly, setting aside political differences, to pray, in the name of Jesus, for those in their midst who are suffering, for the state of the nation and the world, and for the decisions that are made in Washington?
Did you know that once per year, they open this prayer meeting, inviting world leaders of all variety of faiths to join with the intent of encouraging unity and peace through the knowing of Jesus? (This is what we know as the National Prayer Breakfast)
Did you know that those in attendance are given a nametag listing only name and state/country of origin? Did you know that, with the exception of those needing special security detail, seating arrangement is randomly determined? Titles and affiliations are set aside in the interest of ‘leveling the field’. Humility is nurtured.
Did you know that during this year’s prayer breakfast, some people experienced the love of Jesus more than ever they have in life? Do you know that these same people may be at a loss in reconciling this experience with the church’s attack of the event? They may well resonate with Gandhi’s consideration of the Church on earth.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
Washington, politicians, world leaders, spiritual leaders, and others in attendance have never intended that this gathering be a political one. We, as a church, should not fall into the trap set by the media – spinning the National Prayer Breakfast as a political event. It is not a political event. And, as mentioned in our conversation on Sunday, it’s not even an event of our cultural Christianity. It is, more precisely, a Jesus event. In that we can rejoice!
I could address the specific statements made by Obama during his brief conribution to the event. I won’t – except to say that for those in attendance, hearing his words in the context of the non-political event, they found encouragement and some direction in the way Christ taught us to live.
As followers of Jesus, let us rejoice that so many influential world leaders can gather and hear the message of the Gospel. And, let us pray that as His word goes out, it will find a welcome home deep in the hearts of these men and women.
Grace and peace upon you and your work in the Lord Jesus.
[Edit: A few of our pastor’s reflections following the event – The Cohesive Power of Love – Even in DC and Defending Our President]