2020, symbol of sharp vision, confronts the American church with a piercing inward look
For a while, King David’s life went on as usual, unaffected by his clandestine activity with Bathsheba. To David, normal was the daily life of Israelite royalty, in public honor, authority, and grandeur. Eventually he found himself confronted with the disturbing news of Bathsheba’s pregnancy. But to him, keeping life normal was as simple as covering up his actions in a way that led to the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, taking her as his wife, while celebrating with her the birth of their illicit son.
Sin and scandal riddled the highest level – in the God-chosen king himself! Nonetheless, life went on as normal until Nathan showed up.
Nathan was a prophet of God, who served as one of King David’s chief advisors. He and David were friends; they shared the common interest of serving the God of Israel. Nathan had the highest regard and respect for his friend, who besides all of the wonderful things that he did to serve the nation had planned to honor God by building a Temple. Little did Nathan suspect the evil side of his friend. Then the shocking news came to his attention, and as a servant of God he had no choice but to confront King David.
The prophet effectively exposed the King’s sin, convicting him in such a way that David confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13), seeing his act not just as oppression of a subject but as sin against God. Nathan, citing God’s graciousness in forgiving sin, explained the consequences of causing God to be scorned. David’s act opened God to ridicule.
Psalm 51 details David’s earnest prayer of confession and repentance. Here are a few excerpts:
Have mercy on me, O God…
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions…
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight…
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
David, like many others considered heroes of the Bible, sinned and needed God’s grace and forgiveness. Christians today are no different and neither is the Church. The common thread of all faithful servants of God is faithful humility and willingness to repent.
This year, 2020 has roused a Nathan moment to all in the United States who follow Jesus Christ. Unlike anything in our national history, the video of the murder of George Floyd exposed the sin of systemic racism, and there is only one recourse – not denial and blame-shifting but genuine remorse and repentance before God.
David’s life changed after the Nathan moment; there was no return to his normal. Before any of us who call ourselves followers of Christ seek for things to get back to our normal, perhaps we should realize that our normal is nothing to return to. It was a conscious-numbing condition that left us inured to our sinfulness. Going forward is all that we have, so fellow Christians let us like David gush with an earnest desire for God to create in us new hearts and renew us with His Holy Spirit, by which we are both sustained and made one!
Whether or not the United States of America truly turns away from racism and lives up to its platitudes – “One nation under God with liberty and justice for all” – true believers in America, I urge, please let us echo Jesus’ prayer for our oneness. In doing so, we may indeed help the nation to mend this ugly flaw.