”Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” (Psalm 51:10-13)
I write this column knowing it will appear on Inauguration Day 2017. President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence will take their oaths of office this day in the presence of both thousands of vocal supporters and thousands of vocal protesters. A record number of congressional representatives from the opposing party will not attend, and as each media source reports the event in a manner reflecting their particular political bias, our nation’s “peaceful transition of power” will be off to yet another shaky start.
For ten years, my primary focus in this monthly column has been the application of biblical truth to our lives, our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other. My worldview, in a nutshell, is that if I get my relationship with God right, I begin to develop a right attitude toward self and right relationships with others. I am then in a position to have a positive impact on the people around me by my prayers, words and deeds.
The biblical name for this is Kingdom living. As I do it better, and as more and more people around me do it better, the Kingdom of God increases on the earth. (Matthew 6:10, 13:31-33)
Kingdom living is about love, truth, faith, hope, grace, kindness, humility, repentance and righteousness. Our nation’s political process has been unloving, divisive, deceptive, fearful, self-righteous, condemning and unrepentant. And too many Christians in both parties have represented their politics more than the Kingdom.
My last two columns: “Jesus is the Lord of America”, written before the election, and “Ask the Lord to Lead America”, written after the election, have both been about how Kingdom living can change our political climate. This column is about accountability. This column is about you and me.
Most of you are familiar with Psalm 51. King David wrote it to express his repentance after he was convicted of his sins involving Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. (2 Samuel 11) These were sins against his family, his friend and his nation, but they were first and foremost sins against his Lord. (Psalm 51:4)
David’s cry is for a “clean heart” and a “right spirit” so that he can be restored to the joy of his salvation and the blessing of God’s manifest presence in his life. As Christians who follow Jesus, we know “a clean heart and right spirit” is simply another way of describing Kingdom living. We also know it is Kingdom living that produces peace, joy and the manifest presence of the Lord in our lives. (John 14:21; Romans 14:17)
David’s commitment in this cry of repentance is, upon receiving a clean heart and right spirit, to lead others to God. (Psalm 51:13) David knew he had to get right with the Lord before he could effectively help others be right with the Lord. Likewise, we know as Christians that our witness is only as effective as our walk. (Acts 1:8; 1 John 2:2-6) If we want God to use us to change our family, community or nation, we must first let Him change us.
The key word I want us to focus on in Psalm 51 today is the word, “me”. My friends, for each of us, it always starts with God and “me”.
As we move forward with our nation in this hour, you and I need to embrace Psalm 51 as our own individual prayer. Create “in me” a clean heart! Renew a right spirit “within me”! Restore “me”! Uphold “me”!
Jesus taught about the importance of this in a wonderfully blunt parable. He said, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
For many of our politicians and their supporters, including those who profess Christianity, things may not change any time soon. “Unity” may still mean, “Join me in what I want” rather than “Let’s work together”. The goals may still be, “Stay in power” and “Get power back”. The mantra may still be, “We are good and they are not”.
But for you and me, little old Doug Tweed and each of you who reads this column, change can begin now. As we take our stance on the issues, we can do more than profess Christianity. We can embrace Kingdom living. We can love, respect, listen to, pray for and seek to work with those who disagree with us, and become a living model we hope others will follow.
We all need clean hearts and right spirits. It has to start somewhere.
God bless you, and God bless our community.