National prayer breakfast speaker serves ‘food for thought’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 18, 2012

New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas delivered the keynote address at the 60th Annual National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, D.C., recently.

Metaxas, a Yale graduate, spoke to 4,000 people in the Hilton Hotel ballroom, among them the president and vice president of the United States, as well as members of Congress, Cabinet members and diplomats. Alabama’s Sen. Jeff Sessions was the co-chair of the event.

It so happened that I’d heard about this author, having purchased one of Metaxas’ books, titled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German minister who stood up to the Nazi’s because of their atrocities against the Jews. He was sent to a Concentration Camp and executed only weeks before the end of World War II.

Metaxas has also written the biography of William Wilberforce, a 19th century British politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade. He referenced Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce in his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast.

“The lives of both of these men illustrate the difference between phony religiosity and really believing in God in a way that changes your life – (your faith) must change your life and the lives of others,” Metaxas noted.

He spoke about his personal struggles with believing in God and how he lost his faith in college. After graduation, a co-worker helped him find his way back to God.

“I had rejected a phony religious idea of God, not God as He really is. Because when I encountered God as He really is, I knew that is what my heart was really longing for. He is the answer to my pain and all my questions.

“He is real and He loves me, despite everything I’ve done.”

“So at that point I realized that everything I had rejected about God was actually not God.

“It was just dead religion. It was people who go to church but did not show the love of Jesus. It is people who know the Bible and use it as a weapon.

“It was people who don’t practice what they preach, people who are indifferent to the poor and suffering.”

He went on to say, “I had rejected that, but guess what? Jesus had also rejected that. He railed against that and called people to real life and real faith. Jesus was and is the enemy of dead religion.”

Metaxas addressed current cultural issues, “So those of us who know the unborn to be human beings are commanded by God to love those who do not yet see that…Today, if you have a Biblical view of sexuality, you will be demonized by those on the other side. They will call you a bigot. Jesus commands us to love those who call us bigots. Show them the love of Jesus.”

Quoting Jesus’ command to “love your enemies,” he pointed out that this is the real difference between, dead religion, and a living faith in a God of the Scriptures. (Matthew 5:44)

Metaxas also reminded his audience that prayer emanates from “real faith in God” and that kind of faith leads to courageous acts like those of Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce.