Two passages of scripture have been running through my head for the last month or so. Really, they’ve kind of been chasing each other around in my head! First one will come to mind, followed almost immediately by the other. I’ve hesitated to say anything here about it because I’m not sure what to do with the truths contained in the passages. Not fully sure, anyway.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
This last verse is one that I mull over quite often. Believers are so quick to say that we need to pray for the corrupt path our nation is on and they often quote this verse. But read it again. Carefully. The church is definitely being called to pray. But not in the way some want to believe
“If my people, who are called by my name” – this is God talking so he’s talking about those who claim to follow him. In the original, “Old Testament” writing of this, that meant the nation of Israel. Since God has expanded his family to include non-Jews, it means all those who claim to follow God.
“Will humble themselves and pray (emphasis mine) and turn from their wicked ways” – this about the members of the body confessing their own sins, not standing in as confessors for a nation. Believers are called to humble themselves, not humiliate those with a different political ideology.
“Then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin (again, emphasis mine) and will heal their land.” – the sin being forgiven here is not the sin of a nation. It’s the sin of believers who have confessed.
Like I said, still chewing through these two verses and working on what exactly it is I am supposed to take away. One thing is obvious – personal confession is something that believers are called to do. I don’t mean beating yourself up or constantly belittling yourself. I’m talking honesty – “I was wrong. I violated your principles and I’m sorry. Please forgive and restore me.” After all, we have absolutely nothing to lose with confession. I John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I guess it’s time to see if I’m brave enough to live what I’m learning. Am I ready to confess and get things right? Am I ready to own my responsibility and confess regardless of the attitudes and actions of others? Oh boy. This might be tougher than I thought!