The Nineveh Liturgies - Day 3 (Selfishness)
It’s difficult to know how to confess corporate selfishness. National policy is complicated, and it is sometimes difficult to know what is good and what is evil.
Although there are many popular Christians who have tried to reduce our choices -- telling us confidently "What Jesus would do" and "What Jesus would not do" -- deeper study into how governments work and what consequences can result from a decision often make easy answers harder to come by.
Today there are sincere Christian people in our nation who hold opposite stances on sensitive policies. They disagree on how a government should handle humanitarian issues like welfare and immigration, the complexities of military intervention, and trade with foreign countries.
It has been discouraging (even maddening) to enter into conversation with those who claim to love You, only to find that they disagree with much that we feel should be obvious. This rift has led to anger and judgment in the body. It has led us to take hard sides and speak hard words to one another. We have bit and dismissed our brothers and sisters, calling one another fools and pigs. Bloggers have ranted. Politically-driven pastors have herded their followers like cattle. It's kind of a mess, Lord.
So maybe it’s best to start small and admit that in thousands, maybe millions of ways, we have made individual choices that were selfish. As individuals, have gone into the world consuming more than giving. We have been impatient and dismissive.
When it comes to corporate selfishness, we are going to need Your help understanding how we have failed. The Bible says that You are able to show us our weak spots, so would You do that for our country? Would you help us stop reacting with oversimplified hostility, and would You help us stop regurgitating talking points that we don't understand very well?
Then would You help us ask You for wisdom? If there are places where we have been hard-hearted, loyal to a political party over Your voice, will You soften those?
Where we have wronged others as a nation, would You help large numbers of us us to see our greed so that our leaders might apologize and work to heal what we have broken?
And please protect us from leaders who use the language of generosity for hidden ends. This is difficult, God, because not all who claim to work for Your values do, and they can be so persuasive.
Expose the wolves in sheep's clothing. Please, God, show us which leaders are taking advantage of their public platforms to manipulate public emotions instead of dealing in the currency of true compassion. Help us to mistrust them and reject their guidance.
As individuals, help us be givers. There are so many of us who have pursued physical intimacy, parenthood, wealth, and power as consumers. It’s going to be particularly difficult to admit our greed if those selfish deeds are still bringing some sort of pleasure. So Lord, burden our souls and make us uncomfortable until we yield to You. Remove the spirit of gluttony and endless consumption from our land.
Please restore a passion within the individuals of America to care for the weak, the poor, the lonely, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the unborn of our world. Wherever individuals are trapped, mobilize us to rescue. Where they are born into disadvantages, help us serve them eagerly until they are stronger.
Whatever manifestation of that care should be done by a healthy government, please help us to embrace. What work should not be done by a healthy government, please help the church to take seriously, so that each need is met to overflowing.
As we serve, help us remember that we serve You, God, when we serve the poor. To wash their feet is to wash Your feet. So help us to offer our resources and our bodies as tools of healing instead of as instruments of greed.
Reign in our endless appetites. Make us good listeners and good learners. Give us willing hands. Restore self-control and hearts of service to the people of our land.