I have an embarrassing confession to make. I didn’t want to be nice. I wanted Jesus get rid of the graffiti in my neighborhood. The taggers had diminished a while ago, then came back with a vengeance. I was so angry. And out of anger, I prayed Psalm 35:5 against them: “Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord chase them.” Guess what? It wasn’t working—even more graffiti showed up! I was angry with the Lord too, “Why aren’t You fixing this?” It was only a day after I asked, that I heard a teaching on “Identification Repentance” and got my answer. I had made the mistake of vilifying the taggers, when I was supposed to stand in the gap for them.
In the act of Identification Repentance, we identify with the ones who are in error and we repent to God on their behalf. This is what the priests of the Old Testament did. They would go before God and give sacrifices for the sins of the people. They themselves may not have committed any sins, but the people God gave them to watch over were sinning and needed atonement and forgiveness so they could get right with God.
Well, I’ve known for a while that a certain area of Las Vegas is mine to oversee and it starts with my own neighborhood.
If we’re able to identify in some way with those in our realm of spiritual responsibility, we can help them in a very positive way. I had to learn this with the taggers.
The Lord showed me I can identify with their rebellion. I understand rebellion. When no one understands you and no one seems to care; when they try to push you into a mold you don’t fit in; when you feel like you’ve been rejected, you either go deep into yourself in depression, or you get angry and fight. In either case, if someone comes along who accepts you for who you are, it doesn’t matter much what they do, you just want to be accepted. Or if you’re a fighter with a persuasive mouth, you become the leader and others will follow and satisfy your need for acceptance in that way. I understand that. I was once in the same state of mind as the taggers, so I can totally relate.
The taggers’ response to rejection is taking them down a bad path. But I can totally understand the why behind some of their actions. So instead of getting mad at them, I can repent for them. I can stand in the gap for the taggers of my area, repenting for them and asking the Lord to forgive them.
I can take this situation in hand much like Jesus did when He was being accosted before the crucifixion. The people were angry. They were angry at their situation, being cruelly ruled by the Romans and they were angry at Jesus for not being the military leader they wanted. They acted out their anger and disappointment in a bad way by calling for His crucifixion. But how did Jesus respond?
“Then said Jesus, ‘Father forgive them; for they know not what they do’” (Luke 23:34). I feel like that’s what the Lord is telling me to do in my situation with the young taggers in my neighborhood. Repent on their behalf because they know not what they do, and forgive them.
God looks for those of us who are willing to fight when necessary, but also willing to take spiritual responsibility for those who the devil has taken captive because they were desperate for respect, care and love.
In Ezekiel 22:30 God says: “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” I kind of wanted Him to destroy the demons responsible for those taggers, but I was wrong in my thinking. God had a different and better answer to this problem and I’m thankful He showed me what to do and I’ve started doing it.
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then said I, ‘Here am I; send me’” (Isa. 6:8).
I know when I was rebellious and continued to make bad decisions, I didn’t really understand why I did it. Then one day Jesus sent me someone to help me see: all the things I was looking for emanated from a true relationship with Jesus, and my life totally turned around. I believe it will happen for my neighborhood taggers as well. They have no idea who’s praying for them now and how willing the Lord is to answer my prayers.
I may have started off wrong in how I wanted this taken care of, but now I’m on the right path for sure. We don’t get to be Bible teachers and prophets because we’re always right, but because we are willing to be wrong, willing to be humbled and willing to change.
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