Last weekend I watched the 2020 movie Fatima, which chronicles three Portugese children’s experiences in seeing and talking with the Virgin Mary. The real-life events of 1917 are told through flashbacks as a journalist interviews an aged Sister Lucia, the only one of the three children to live to adulthood.
Early in the children’s discourses with the Holy Mother, she adjures them to pray every day—then adds, “If we do not stop insulting God, there will be a war worse than this one.”
That drove me to my knees. How can we ask or expect God to bless America when we keep insulting Him by spewing hatred, division, disregard for Him, and disregard for life?
We deserve nothing but judgment. Yet history records how God continually warned Israel of their wrongdoings and gave them opportunities to repent before judging them.
Repentance is an unpopular word in today’s culture. It drips with accountability—which people shake off as readily as a duck shakes water off its back.
People like to own their words but not their potential consequences.
Insults to people are ultimately insults to God. The movie’s line, “If we don’t stop insulting God …” filled my mind with a sickening image of Christ bleeding all over again for the world’s insults to Him and His creation. Hebrews 6:6 flashed before my eyes: “They themselves are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to open shame.”
In the movie, the mayor shut down the local church right when people were convicted to pray and repent. The children were subjected to ridicule, shame, false accusations, and psychiatric evaluations.
Worldwide, that’s still happening.
Our country is more divided now than it has been since perhaps the Civil War. Hatred for Christians is at an all-time high. The day after this blog posts, a new president will be inaugurated. Regardless of how we voted, the Bible’s guidance remains the same:
“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17 ESV).
Pray for those in authority.
“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior …” (1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)
God is the only source of true authority.
“There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1 ESV).
“He [God] rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28 ESV).
Christ already demonstrated victory over human authority.
“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15 ESV).
God blesses the nation that calls upon Him.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12 ESV)!
God alone holds the answers to our problems.
“He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away” (Job 12:23-25 ESV).
Repay insults with blessings.
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9 BSB).
(I find that particularly hard. It’s not fair. But grace isn’t fair.)
Today’s leaders don’t hold themselves accountable to the people they govern (at least not the way Hebrews 13:17 says). Regardless of that shortcoming, we are to subject ourselves to human institutions (1 Peter 2:13, Titus 3:1) unless they conflict with God’s commandments (Acts 5:29). When we live that way, our lives become not a question of “Is God on my side” but “Am I on God’s side?”
Everyone has opinions about how to fix what’s wrong with the United States. Most of the rhetoric lacks substance. Instead, let’s do something truly productive. Would you pray with me what Daniel prayed?
O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name (Daniel 9:18-19 ESV).
When we live Daniel’s prayer, we can expect God to move mightily, as He did in the climax of the movie. Fatima is an appeal for intercession, a call to hope, and a reminder that we can change the world because of who God is.
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BONUS: Andrea Bocelli sang awesome musical backgrounds for Fatima. Enjoy!
“Gloria, The Gift of Life” Andrea Bocelli (audio only) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjCQOr35mQk
“Gratia Plena” (with snippets from the movie) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvhWrGFnXEs
Wendell Constantine sings an equally wonderful version of “Gloria” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swR3ZPiprww