Meditations for American Christians

AVHRR satellite image of the 48 contiguous sta...

AVHRR satellite image of the 48 contiguous states of the United States. Español: Mapa de los 48 estados continentales contiguos de los Estados Unidos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this the political rhetoric is heating up on both sides of a bitterly contested election. The words I offer here are appropriate for this time, but I also believe they are appropriate for every time – I hope they transcend the limits of a particular time and circumstance. So, I offer a few meditations that I hope you will find are worthy for us as disciples to consider, now and at many times in the future.

1.  America, the United States, is a wonderful country, but it is not the “promised land” of the Old Testament nor is it the “new Jerusalem” of the New Testament. We are a creation of time and circumstance, both blessed and cursed by our constitutional republic, and susceptible to every vice and sin known to other countries.

2.  Disciples of Christ in America have taken advantage of our great freedoms and opportunities and have done great things both in America and throughout the world. We need to be thankful for our forefathers and foremothers.

3.  Disciples of Christ in America have done untold damage both in America and throughout the world. We are not perfect, and to say that we have not been guilty of racism, militarism, greed, and covetousness would be to utter a profound lie.

4.  While it would not be wrong to pray for God to “Bless America,” neither would it be wrong to pray for God to “Bless Canada, Mexico, England, France, Germany, – in fact, the whole world!” We are not God’s chosen country. We are not God’s chosen people. We certainly have enjoyed many blessings – but God makes the sun rise on all this place we call earth, not just the United States.

5.  While it would not be wrong to ask for God to “Bless America,” it would be far more appropriate to pray that America would once again honor God. Let’s face it – why should God want to bless us when we so utterly disrespect him? We have removed God from the city square, from our schools, from the center of public discourse and increasingly we have removed him from the pulpit of our churches. And we want him to bless us? Um, I ask again, why should he?

And so, as recipients of some of the greatest gifts and freedoms that have ever been enjoyed by human beings, we as Christians in the United States need to pray a prayer of thanks to God – thanks for things that we receive that we have not earned and that we have no right to expect. We need to pray for forgiveness – for the sins of our fathers and our own failings. And we need to ask God for strength to do better – to right the wrongs that we see and we need to pray for vision to see the wrongs to which we are currently blind.

As disciples of Christ, we should be far less concerned about the political situation in our country and we should be far more concerned about the spiritual condition of our own places of worship and our own hearts. It is always easier to stick our noses in someone else’s business than it is to take care of our own. The world has a right to reject our call to follow Jesus if we who claim the name refuse to play the game. While we do not need, and it would actually be wrong, to forget the world and only focus on ourselves, let us be careful to “remove the plank from our own eye” before we attempt to “remove the speck from the world’s eye.”

Our Heavenly Father, so many times we get things all wrong. We ask you to bless us when we are cursing you. We place ourselves in a position of expecting blessings for which we have no right to ask. We congratulate ourselves for victories we did not win and we blame others for our own miserable defeats. In other words, we are following in the footsteps of so many of our spiritual fathers and mothers.

We pray for forgiveness of these and our other many sins. We are proud, stiff-necked and rebellious. We glory in our military and our self-sufficiency. We claim to be gloriously attired, not realizing how poor and naked we really are. Forgive us, Father, not because we deserve it, but because it is in your nature to do so.

We ask for strength to do better. We need to clean up our own nest. We need to tear down our idol poles and our high places and we need to burn them in  Gehenna. We need to purify our places of worship, and then we need to purify our public square. But first, Heavenly Father, we pray with David that you will purify our hearts. Make us new people, and then possibly we can make our world a new world.

Teach us to be more grateful, dear God. We are such a blessed people, even when we are blind to those blessings. We are free. We are prosperous. We have more natural resources than we can possibly use. We have more beauty than we can see in a lifetime. We are well fed. We have more leisure time than any society before us. And yet we complain and whine and bicker. Before we lose what we have, teach us to see it, and to be thankful for it.

Bless our neighbors with your love as you have blessed us. Show others the depth of your grace as you have shown it to us. Let others see the love of your Son as you have shown him to us. May we be instruments of your mercy as others have demonstrated your mercy to us. Let us shine your light in every dark corner of our country, and then in the world.

We are sorry for our arrogance, but we are thankful for your love. Like disobedient children who see the pain we cause our parents, we do see the pain we cause you, and we are sorry. As a loving parent who must discipline, yet who forgives a wayward child, we ask you to discipline us in your love, but to forgive and to hold us close to your loving breast.

We ask, for we cannot do any other, in Jesus name,

Amen.

About Paul Smith

Paul was born in Santa Fe, NM. He graduated from high school in Albuquerque, NM, and has lived and worked in NM, TX, OK, and CO. He is married to Susan and father to Kylee. Paul has a BS degree in Youth Ministry, a MS degree in Biblical and Related Studies and an M.Div. degree, all from ACU. He is currently enrolled in a D.Min. degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. Paul has served as a youth minister, preaching minister, hospice chaplain, and as a flight instructor and professional pilot for a freight company.

Posted on October 26, 2012, in Confession, Gratitude, Prayer, Worship and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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