Tuesday, November 6, 2012

owning up to the past: broken

And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God.
Nehemiah 9:3

When the Jews in Jerusalem got serious in renewal of their covenantal obligations with God, it deepened their worship. They made serious efforts at it. They spent at least 1/2 of a day in this event alone. Three to six hours (depending on whether this is a 24 hour full day or a 12 hour daylight day) were devoted to reading the Law in a public gathering. Then an equal amount of time was spent in confession of sin. You can read the summary of it in all of Nehemiah chapter nine.

The generation in Jerusalem realized that disobedience to God's rule had been endemic in Israel. Their prayer of confession and repentance is a rehearsal of the nation's entire history, stopping at each important point to confess historical unfaithfulness. They owned up to their sinful history and realigned themselves with the truth of God's Word.

This has me thinking about how I ought to view Christian history. There have been historical failures in doctrine and practice in the church. Atrocious sins have marked those who have claimed to follow Christ. My tendency has been to shrug off Christian history's more wicked failures as something that other people did. But perhaps my view should change. Maybe a broken heart over the way Christianity has strayed is vital to the momentum needed to advance the gospel in my generation.

Humble confession from hearts broken by their own sins and the historic failures of past generations can make huge impact. I am open to God showing me how to own this as I should. And I pray He will help me show others what I come to understand.

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