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What Can We Learn from the Riot in the Capitol?

Thousands of pieces have already been written and posted about the storming of the halls of Congress on Jan 6. Politicians and opinion-makers on the right and the left are dissecting the events of the day, and the wider stories of the Senate races in Georgia and the election controversies. Some are clearly seeking to extract talking points that will advance their party agenda. But many, thankfully, are taking a break from the election-year bloviating to condemn the violence and affirm the fundamental principles of democracy and constitutional government. For example, there was this encouraging word from French President, Emmanuel Macron: “What happened today in Washington DC is not America… We believe in the strength of our democracy.”

What are the spiritual lessons to be gleaned from the Washington train wreck? Many come to mind, but I’d like to zero in on three that transcend the left-right divide, and that I believe every Jesus-follower should be able to affirm.

First, the mob violence is a nauseating example of how the lies spread by the media and populist ideologues are poisoning our culture. The Washington rioters, spurred on by the President, were acting on the false belief that Congress had the authority to overturn election results. And that threats of physical violence would encourage them to do so. Their actions weren’t just seditious; they were utterly inane. So lesson number one: We can’t be passive when we encounter falsehood. In this season of confusion and discord, every Christian is called to seek the truth and speak the truth.

The second spiritual lesson of the train wreck in the Capital is that our nation is fragile. The Covid sheltering…the relentless partisan wrangling…the multi-trillion-dollar treasury blow-out…the nation-wide rioting perpetrated by extremists on the right and the left…the precipitous decline in church engagement – all of it has weakened us. I’m not suggesting that we’re about to implode. As Adam Smith astutely observed, “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation” – and that goes double for the mighty USA. But the warning lights are flashing. We’re inching closer to the red zone. Republicans should keep that in mind as they piece back together their broken and bleeding party. Democrats should keep that in mind when their far-left congressional representatives begin to extol the virtues of socialism.

The third spiritual lesson from the Washington travesty is that our beloved nation needs prayer. We Christians should be on our knees before the Father interceding on behalf of our churches, schools, courts, city governments, governors, state houses, President and Congress. We need to confess that our faith has been lukewarm and our witness has been weak. We need to plead for the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness. We need to ask the Spirit to move with power to revive churches and draw the lost to Jesus.

The Lord’s word to the ancient Hebrews in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is also a word to the American church:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.


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