By Rich Rivera
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself once again going down a YouTube rabbit hole. I have found that this habit can be both a blessing and a curse. This particular day, I ended up watching a Cornel West video where he was being asked a series of questions in regards to the plight of the African American community. He said something that moved me deeply. In talking of how slaves kept their faith by hiding it, Dr. West said that slaves would steal away at night to go down to the river where they would hold hands and lift their voices up as one. Then he said this: "Voices create community." What a powerful little sentence: Voices create community.
Beloved, the time has come for the folks who call Restoration home to lift our voices as one. The time has come to raise a joyful noise as a joyful people. I believe we have already begun to do so. And in all integrity, I can say that we as a church are on the precipice of blessing and growth. Not just numerical growth, but spiritual maturity. We are so close to what we have been asking for: a church that is present, in every way—on the block, at the bodega, and at the parks of the South Bronx.
How do I know this? Because we got Satan’s attention. He has taken notice, and we are now faced with what the "old" church called demonic opposition. To some this is a new thing, but to many who come out of particular church traditions this is a known reality. When God is moving in a people and things are changing, Satan intensifies his presence and begins the work of disrupting the move of the Holy Spirit among a people.
Now, this scares me, but by no means do I feel defeated. I am not tapping out. In fact, this leads me to pray and seek God's Word for His voice in order that we would find our collective voice and lift it up as one.
The Lord graciously led me to 2 Chronicles 20. In this passage, King Jehoshaphat learns that his enemies have come together as one to beat down the people of God. Jehoshaphat was afraid, but not defeated. He resolved to seek the Lord. He proclaimed a fast for the nation, and everyone came together as one to pray and to fast. In the assembly of the people, Jehoshaphat lifted up his voice in prayer. He was confident. He was bold. He knew that all he knew was that they needed to seek the Lord. And guess what happened? The Holy Spirit came upon one man among them who stood up bravely and spoke what the Spirit spoke to him.
What do you think God had to say? God said the battle was His. He said that the people were to position themselves and stand still. God tells them to not be afraid or discouraged, because He is with them. Jehoshaphat postured himself before the Lord and the people followed his lead. Jehoshaphat and his people came up with the idea of having some people assigned to sing and others assigned to praise the Lord.
What do you think happened after that? God turned their enemies against one another. They beat themselves. The people learned that the fight was the Lord's and their job was to show up, fast, pray, sing, and praise. We can learn much from this. We have to learn much from this. God will fight for us. We jsut have to show up.