The Courageous Ownership Of Spiritual Leaders
...confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. — Nehemiah 1:6-7
We are in the middle of looking at the four C.O.R.E. elements of Nehemiah's prayer.
- Connecting With God.
- Owning Our Sin.
- Recalling God’s Faithfulness.
- Entrusting Our Plans.
Yesterday, we looked at how Nehemiah began this prayer by connecting with God and why connecting with God's sovereignty is essential. Next, we listen as Nehemiah confesses and prays about corporate and personal sins.
But confession and ownership of sin are hard for this time in our world. Here are two reasons why.
First, we are obsessed with finger-pointing. Everyone, from the highest leaders in our country to the people protesting in the streets, points fingers at someone else. Someone else is always to blame. The President, Congress, and Legislators. The policies, programs, and systems. Left, right, and centrists. Colonialists, history, and leaders from the past. Influencers, colleges, and media. You name the person or the group, and we have someone to blame. Think about it: when was the last time you heard anyone confess sin or even, at minimum, an error in judgment? This is because blaming is easier to do. It is easier to accept, especially when we dislike the agenda of the people we are prone to blame. This is why there is so much division in this country and the world.
But there is a second reason why confession and ownership of sin are hard. We no longer believe that there is such a thing as sin. We have exchanged biblical morality for a morality of universalism. We have exchanged biblical viewpoints for cultural perspectives. Today, we increasingly believe there are only different cultural or moral perspectives, and each deserves its own value and justice. So everyone, including the most "evil" (i.e., Hamas), deserves a hearing and has a right to their perspective. The issue lies in the fact that moral relativism fundamentally undermines and destabilizes the very fabric of our culture. Thus, every culture loses. The distinctions are lost. Evil becomes good, and good becomes evil.
Church, this is where we are heading. So what can we do?
Here are four actions we need to take based on this part of Nehemiah's prayer:
One | Stop Blaming.
As the church, we need to stop finger-pointing and blaming others. We have to reject the need to blame and explain these things away.
Two | Reject Cultural Distortions of Biblical Truth.
As the church, we have gradually walked away from the truth. I believe pastors, church boards, and the people have perpetuated and pronounced these untruths for too long. We have proclaimed a gospel of relative truth that is adjusted to cultural norms, and now the church, in many cases, has become corrosive. This may mean firing some pastors or standing up to apparent untruths. But we have to individually accept the truth as God has written it and stop making cultural and philosophical adjustments to the truth in our life, our family, and our church.
Three | Repent and Realign.
We need to repent and realign to the biblical truth. Sometimes, this takes time and accountability. It will require adjustments to how you think, speak, and lead. It will require personal, family, and church realignment. You will need to start putting yourself around different people, different cultures, and in different situations.
Four | Advocate for Biblical Truth.
And then, following this, God will eventually call you to advocate for his truth. The repentant leader will advocate for truth in conversations and interactions with others, especially in divisive or heated contexts. God's leader is called to speak up for biblical truths only after willingly taking the previous three actions because now he can say follow me as I follow Christ.
Church, this is the message for our time. It's one of repentance, truth, and deep ownership that requires us first to confess and own our sins before calling for corporate and national change.
In your personal life, community, or in the broader societal context, where do you observe the tendency to blame others rather than confess and own one's mistakes or sins? How does this compare with Nehemiah's personal and corporate confession approach, and what impact do you think adopting a similar stance could have in these areas?
How have you observed the dilution or distortion of biblical truths in favor of cultural or universalist morals in your surroundings? In what ways can you actively reject such distortions and realign with biblical truths, following the example set by Nehemiah?
DO THIS: Confess today.
PRAY THIS: Father, I humbly confess my own sins and the ways in which I have contributed to the collective wrongdoings of our community, acknowledging that, like Nehemiah, even I and my family have strayed from Your commandments. Grant me the courage to own my faults, the strength to reject the ease of blame, and the wisdom to align my life more closely with Your truth and righteousness. Amen.
PLAY THIS: The Cross Is My Confession.
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