Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT
Several things about the Bible make it distinct. It is the word of God. It provides encouragement, instruction, and it is timeless. Although the context helps us understand the events, time, and place, it's still relatable because it documents the relationship between God and individuals from the beginning of time. The same things that applied to the human spiritual condition thousands of years ago remain unchanged.
Today's verse is a perfect example. It records the conversation between God and Solomon. God, knowing that humankind would go astray–the history of our doing this had been established in events leading up to this conversation–so, when we go astray, how do we get back?
When the people of our nations, those who have been chosen–all who call themselves Christian turn to God, there will be healing. But God is particular in what needs to happen.
First, we need to humble ourselves. Oh no, not that! Yep, we must admit we don't have it all figured out. In fact, what we do think we have figured out, if it's not in alignment with God, we've got it wrong. Humbling means sacrificing our need to be correct and letting God lead us.
Second, we need to pray. How are we to know unless we have a two-way conversation with God? It's not all about our talking–approaching God with our wish list of wants. In honestly seeking his counsel, we must listen. Here comes the hard part, in hearing, we need to obey. It means–here comes that dreaded word, CHANGE. Ouch!
Thirdly, we need to turn from our wicked ways. We must actively reject evil. Those sins we're so attached to, you know, the ones I'm talking about, we each have our own. Those thorns in our flesh, we strive to conquer them, and any other sins that try to creep in.
When we do this, God grants forgiveness. He didn't say it would be easy, and based on the human track record, he knows we're not perfect. But God the Father sent Jesus as our mediator and the Holy Spirit as our Helper. We aren't going through any of this alone. God loves us despite our imperfections and walks with us on the road of sanctification. We are not perfect yet, but we're getting there by His grace.
All this culminates with the healing of us as individuals, as churches (yes, United Methodist, I'm talking to you too), our communities, and our nations. This healing brings about God's kin-dom on earth. Imagine a world of peace and justice instead of the human version perplexed by division and oppression.
Which world do we want? God has given us the remedy, but the decision is up to us. Will we humble ourselves, seek and follow God, and reject sin to bring about the healing that is so needed?
Father God, thank you for your promise of healing. We confess we have not humbled ourselves; in our prayers, we often ask but fail to listen, and we have not rejected evil. Forgive us, Lord. Help us to overcome our need for control, to listen and obey, and seek to sin no more. May we, your people called by your name, work together to bring about your kin-dom on earth. Amen.