Trouble, Oh Trouble Please Be Kind

I’m reading George Barna’s revolution: blame my father and John Macy.

The unfortunate truth is that most citizens of the “greatest nation on earth” are mired in an agonizing revolving door of trial-and-error efforts in a disheartening and unfulfilling search for truth, integrity, meaning, wholeness, connection, passion, and inner peace. Being in the presence of people who seem to have discovered the keys to achieving such lofty and desirable outcomes cannot help but cause earnest seekers to take notice — and to wonder how it is even remotely possible for Revolutionaries to succeed in our sophisticated age with such simple values and practices (13).

Simple values and practices: sounds very Friends-esque, yes? Or at least, first generation Friends – we’ve done a good job mucking it up.

Which brings me to a passage in Leviticus that’s been haunting me. The first thing that struck me was in a preceding passage, talking about what happens when people turn away repeatedly from the Lord, refusing to accept His Call and Word for their lives, and describing in graphic detail what will happen to them: “You will eat the bodies of your sons and daughters.” ~ Leviticus 26:29, meaning you will consume that which will keep your bloodline going. In today’s society, it might not be that graphic, but I’d say many parents sacrifice their child to meet the parents’ own needs, be it putting them through countless programs to ensure the child’s “success” according to their standards, or selling them out to the sex industry to bring in money: they consume some part of their children in order to feed a need inside of them.

But then comes an interesting part. After the people turning away again and again, and God punishing again and again, there comes this:

There Is Always Hope
But maybe the people will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors. Maybe they will admit they turned against me and sinned against me. That made me turn against them. So I sent them into the land of their enemies. These disobedient people might be sorry for what they did. They might accept punishment for their sin. If they do, I will remember my agreement with Jacob. I will remember my agreement with Isaac and Abraham. And I will remember the land. The land will be empty. It will enjoy its time of rest. Then those who are alive will accept the punishment for their sins. They will learn that they were punished because they hated my laws. And they refused to obey my rules. They truly sinned. But if they come to me for help, I will not turn away from them. I will listen to them even in the land of their enemies. I will not completely destroy them. I will not break my agreement with them. This is because I am the Lord their God. For their good I will remember the agreement of their ancestors. I brought their ancestors out of the land of Egypt. I did it so I could become their God. The other nations saw these things. I am the Lord.” ~ Leviticus 26: 40-45

The land of their enemies: I wouldn’t say the typical American culture is welcoming of folks who are *truly* following the call of Christ.

“The mere presence of Revolutionaries makes the typical American citizen — yes, even the typical churchgoer — uncomfortable” (16).

Ouch. I somewhat feel like the land of America has had a time of rest as well – seems like there’s a harvest out there, and God’s clearing the way in preparation for harvesters trained by His own Hand – in tune with His leadings, His Word, His Light.

What really got to me was “and the sins of their ancestors.” Can we truly move and be the Church that God calls us to be without repenting? I’ve heard that Donald Miller details a great experience with that in his book Blue Like Jazz: setting up a confession booth at Reed College, but rather than hearing confessions, he and his friends confessed all the crimes perpetrated by Christians and asked for forgiveness. As I’ve been reading the Bible, over and over God says that he will not only punish the sinner, but also his sons and grandsons and great-grandsons. Leanne Payne talks about needing to be cleansed of the sins of our ancestors (racism in particular) because it *will* trickle down from generation to generation until someone repents and asks God to give them a new spirit.

So, as a member of my worship gathering, as a member of my denominational gathering, as a member of the Church of God, what sins of my ancestors am I called to repent? Even if I wasn’t there, it’s affected me – us – the whole. How do groups corporately repent? We want to move forward: but can we if we don’t repent of the sins of the past?

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