Do you know where the sin is in Miami?

Do you know where the sin is located? I was recently shown a prayer map for our city, Miami.  It seems that ten or fifteen years ago, some praying women got together and decided they needed to better visualize the needs of our city. What if they could target the really serious sins in the city so that they could better pray?  Sounds like a great idea, right?  The result was a map of our city pinpointing the locations of specific organizations and people with the most significant sins.  What categories of sins/needs were chosen, you may ask?  Abortion clinics, cult and occult establishments, places where prostitutes see their Johns or Janes, places where pornography can be bought or viewed, establishments where Freemasons meet, and places where homosexuals live.

Okay.  I have to be honest here.  I had a visceral response to this map.  I imagine the praying women meant well.  I believe their motives were good. Don’t get me wrong.  I would love to see every abortion clinic in the city closed, the end to victimization that comes with prostitution and occult practices.  I want to see the healing of brokenness in our city in all its forms.  I pray for the day when true shalom will be found in every community and corner of our city.

Here is how I felt.  First, I wondered why these sins were chosen.  Why not pride (which I am told is the worst sin of all because it gives birth to all others)?  Why not lovelessness?  Why not unforgiveness?  Why not legalism?  You see, I remember the Pharisees chose a few Technicolor sins and put their emphasis there.  As a result they vilified people who sinned in these ways.  And as a result of that, these people, the “sinners,” felt that God could not be interested in them because they were, well, just too sinful for his love and forgiveness.

This led to the second feeling I had.  I should be on the map. I think I know my sin, but God often shows me that I see only the tip of the iceberg.  I allow deep anger to flourish in me.  I harbor grudges.  I struggle with sinful pride. I find it hard to love. I withhold myself from situations where I might allow myself to be known.  (I hope the praying-ladies are praying for me!) What I mean is this: Something in me likes this prayer map. If I can pray from a map that focuses on the sins of everyone out there, maybe I can forget about how sinful and broken I am.  (By the way, this is one reason I love to pray for other people’s sin. I can feel a little better about myself.)  Then, before I know it, I see people who need to be saved, but not me. I’m a pretty good person.  And just maybe, I can choose a place to live with other pretty good people like me. (See those places on the map without tabs? Don’t you want to live there?!)

Okay, I felt these things and also some things I would rather not say at this point.  So what can I do with the map?  Is it of no help at all? I asked what Jesus would do with the map. Two things quickly came to mind.  First, I think Jesus would want to hang out in these places.  These might be the places we want to avoid, but Jesus would seek out people where the map is marked.  The legend on his map would say: “Friends.”  He would spend his time there, and love people in the process.  He would give them hope that they are not God-forgotten, or God-forsaken.  He would tell them that nothing in their life is so big or dark or broken that God can’t and won’t redeem it.  He’d prove all of this by dying for them, and showing his power to give them life by rising from the dead.

Second, then I think Jesus would do something unexpected with the map.  He would pray for the people who use it for prayer, the praying-ladies, and people like me.  He would love them and pray for them.  He would surprise them with such a love and welcome that they might be able to get honest about their brokenness and emptiness. And maybe, just maybe, they/I might be able to grasp “how high and wide and long and deep is the love of Christ” that surpasses all knowledge.  And maybe then, they might be filled with all its fullness to the glory of God.

So, yes, pray for your city.  Love the people of the city.  Pray that God teaches you every day how much you need grace. If you don’t see this, you’re not likely to really love other people as Jesus does and extend grace to them.  Think about it.

It’s me.  It’s me.  It’s me, O Lord.  Standing in the need of prayer.

2 responses to this post.

  1. The problems with the sins you mention, like pride, anger, lack of love. They’d just blot out the map because we’re all guilty of those sins!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Sandy on February 1, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Beautiful and convicting.
    And true, true, Ro.

    Reply

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