I’m not much of a crier; you can ask my wife. I do a good job keeping the tears back. But today seems to be a day where tears won’t be shed in vain. It seems that what our world needs are the tears of the church.
Crying for the Lost
Paul opens Romans 9 with a stunning confession: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3). What is so stunning about this confession, is the attitude Paul exhibits towards unbelievers. If anyone understood the glories of heaven and the bliss of union and communion with Jesus Christ, it was Paul (see Eph. 1). But here in Romans 9, Paul opens his heart towards sinners and wishes that if it were possible, he could trade places with them.
Similarly, we think of our Lord Jesus Christ as he dew near and saw Jerusalem shortly before his coming sufferings and death. How is heart was inclined towards sinners: “He wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:41–42).
Texts could abound. But the underlying principle is that the church ought to cry for the lost. There are millions of people, today, who are rejoicing in a legal “victory.” But to those of us who hold unswervingly to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, this isn’t a day to rejoice; it’s a day to weep. To weep for those who walk as enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). To weep for those who call evil good and good evil (cf. Isa. 5:20). To weep for the perversion of the biblically defined covenant of marriage.
As the church of Jesus Christ, we understand, more than sinners could begin to comprehend, the awful judgment that this law speaks against a sinful people (Rom. 1:18ff). And I think it is about time, that the church lets the world know, we are weeping for them.
Tears for the Church
But it is also a day to weep for the church. I have four children. Four wonderful children. Children whom I believe are part of God’s church. Children who I hope one day will be the next generation of Christians who are keeping watch on the walls of Jerusalem. And today reminds me, that the world in which I grew up—the relative peace and quiet, even on the front lines of the church’s war against the world and sin—is quickly darkening. My children will likely continue to grow up in a world that is growing increasingly hostile to the biblical faith. And as a father, I weep for my children. I weep for my church; because it shall be on the front lines of battle that they, and we, will have to take our stand.
We have grown accustomed to the prosperity of America. To finding security and refuge in the legislation of this government. To the founding freedoms that largely favored the Christian religion. We’ve lost some of that today. And that makes many people feel very uncomfortable.
But the Bible has promised that it is through many tribulations that we must enter the kingdom of heaven (Acts 14:22). That it has been granted to us to suffer for the sake of Christ (Phil. 1:29). That our lot here in this age of unrest, is typically defined by struggle, persecution, suffering, weakness, and death. For this the church ought to weep for herself. There are tough days ahead. Challenging days ahead. Days wherein the faith of many will falter. And days when many disciples shall turn back for the hard words (John 6:66). Today, is a stark reminder that our earthly pilgrimage is marked by weeping.
Tears for our Hope
But as I’ve been reflecting on this today, the church also ought to cry tears of hope. It is dark providences like we are facing today, it is in times when the oceans seem to rage against the purity and fidelity of the church, that we can weep tears of joy because we know him who we have believed (2 Tim. 1:12). And we shed tears of hope because we know his promise stands firm: “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
Christ has promised to defend, protect, guide, and build his church (Isa. 43:2). And while the nations rage, they do so in vain, because we have a God who sits in the heavens and laughs (see Ps. 2). What joy there is in knowing that the success of our church and our ministry and our lives, is cemented firmly to the victory of Jesus Christ over all powers and authorities, even over hell itself.
And despite the dark day that today appears to be, there is a risen Lord who has claimed all glory and majesty and dominion to himself. And because the church is his bride, the church shall never ever perish. Empires go from power to destruction, kings rise and fall, nations are built and destroyed, laws are made and fade away, but the church of Jesus Christ shall stand both now and forever.
This is our hope. This is a light that shines into the darkness of the day. This is the joy that I have in raising my children in a sin fallen and plagued world, in a time when persecutions (may) abound—to know that they are part of a kingdom that cannot and will not be shaken.
The world needs the tears of the church. Especially in a day like today.