[Part 3 of a longer article originally transcribed via John Stott (1921-2011)]
What is the nature of this influence? Let me suggest to you a few ways in which we Christians have power.
- First, there is power in prayer.
I beg you not to dismiss this as a pious platitude. It isn’t. There are some Christians who are such social activists that they never stop to pray. They are wrong, are they not? Prayer is an indispensable part of the Christian’s life and of the church’s life. And the church’s first duty toward society and its leaders is to pray for them. “I urge, then, first of all,” writes Paul in his first letter to Timothy, “that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
If there is more violence in the community than peace, more indecency than modesty, more oppression than justice, more secularism than godliness, is the reason that the church is not praying as it should? I believe that in our normal services, we should take with increasing seriousness the five or ten minutes of intercession in which, as a congregation, we bow down before God and bring to him the world and its leaders, and cry to him to intervene. And the same is true in our prayer gatherings, in our fellowship groups, and in our private prayers. I think most of us, myself included, are more parochial than global in our prayers. But are we not global Christians? Do we not share the global concerns of our global God? We should express these concerns in our prayers.
- Second, there is the power of truth.
All of us believe in the power of the truth of the gospel. We love to say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). We are convinced of the power of the gospel in evangelism—that it brings salvation and redemption to those who respond and believe in Jesus. But it isn’t only the gospel that is powerful. All God’s truth is powerful. God’s truth of whatever kind is much more powerful than the Devil’s lies. Do you believe that, or are you a pessimist? Do you think the Devil is stronger than God? Do you think lies are stronger than the truth? The Christian believes that truth is stronger than lies, and God is stronger than the Devil. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 13:8, “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.” As John said in his prologue to the fourth gospel, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Of course it cannot; that light is the truth of God.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the legendary Soviet dissident, believed in the power of truth over lies. Upon receiving the Nobel Prize in literature, he gave a speech called “One Word of Truth.” Writers, he says, “haven’t got any rockets to blast off. We … don’t even trundle the most insignificant auxiliary vehicle. We haven’t got any military might. So what can literature do in the face of the merciless onslaught of open violence?” Solzhenitsyn doesn’t say we haven’t got any power. He says, “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.” If anybody should believe that, it’s Christians. It’s true. Truth is much more powerful than bombs and tanks and weapons.