Don’t waste the pandemic, theologian John Piper told Christians at the 2020 Cross for the Nations conference.
In the Bible, God often teaches His people to glorify Him through their experience of suffering, Piper said. Stephen, the first martyr of the New Testament, saw God’s glory in his moments of greatest suffering.
“God creates proclaimers of the Word through suffering. That’s one of the means that He uses,” Piper said at the conference on Tuesday which is available to watch on YouTube. “One of the gifts that God has for His people through suffering is to show them things in the Bible about Himself that they had never seen.”
When they experience suffering, Christians can proclaim God’s holiness, he said.
“I am praying that this pandemic would not be wasted in your life, but that you would mingle it with the Cross Conference and ten thousand other divine influences in your life so that the mysterious working of God to make hundreds of you into lifelong missionaries and all of you into God-exalting lovers of Jesus who are world Christians,” he said.
The Lord’s Prayer roots itself in the request for God’s name to be hallowed, Piper said. Christians should proclaim the holiness of God’s name in their words and actions in the world. The purpose and meaning of missionary work springs from a desire to exalt the name of God.
“The holiness of God is absolute reality, it’s weighty beyond comparison. All other reality is nothing compared to God in His holiness. We are to hallow God’s name and we are to pray that God would enable us to hallow His name,” he said.
Piper said that when he grew up, he thought the phrase “Hallowed be your name” in the Lord’s Prayer was a proclamation of truth. He realized later that, like every other part of the Lord’s Prayer, it was a request.
“The Lord’s Prayer is a continued request for Christians to serve God on Earth. All the other requests help us hallow God’s name,” said Piper. “For some reason, I grew up with a sense that every time I said hallowed be your name, your will be done, your kingdom come I was proclaiming a truth, not asking for anything. That’s wrong. These are all petitions. These are all prayers, these are all requests.”
Although Jesus’ request for God to hallow His name is a request, it also differs from the other requests in the Lord’s Prayer in an important way, he said.
“’Cause your name to be hallowed’ is an explicit request. Hallowing is an act of the human heart. None of the other six petitions ask God to effect an act in the human heart,” Piper said.