Here in Paraguay, a small, developing country, it is common to see stories of corruption and political scandals filling the front pages of the daily papers. One recent weekday headline was different: “Senators brought to their knees in full session.” A photo showed the nation’s senators kneeling together on the Senate floor with their heads bowed in prayer to God while visiting speaker Nick Vujicic interceded for forgiveness of sins and healing for the country.
While the scene was quick to generate cries of hypocrisy and commentaries about the separation of church and state, to me it was a striking reminder of our common need for God.
In these days of polarized partisan politics, skyrocketing national debt, and global economic instability, the unusual sight of senators on their knees should remind us of the ancient story of Nineveh. Nineveh was an important city-state whose people, like many societies of today, had turned their backs on God. However, when confronted with their sin, the king and his nobles led the people in repentance: “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish” (Jonah 3:8-9).
Like the people of Nineveh, we need to repent. Repentance will lead to changed lives and a changed society in which people love and care for one another. The day before his prayer in the Senate, Nick Vujicic, a man born without arms or legs, spoke to an eager crowd of over ten thousand about overcoming despair and obstacles through faith. There too, people’s hunger for renewal was palpable as thousands stood to pray for a relationship with God.
That is just the beginning. All those burdened with sin, loneliness, and despair need to experience the love of Christ. We as Christians have the task not only to preach the good news but to live it. The gospel message brings joy, hope, love, forgiveness and healing. When these are tangible in the daily lives of those committed to Christ, it is contagious. Seeing the crowds listening to Vujicic, one could imagine the day when a genuine movement of repentance and revival will spread through the whole world. As the prophets proclaimed: “‘As surely as I live’, says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God’” (Romans 14:11).