God, Forgive Us

Photo by Dave Hoefler

As a dad who’s tried to raise two sons amid all kinds of treacheries in this seductive age, as a pastor who’s sat with countless wounded, angry souls walking away from their faith (or wondering if it’s ever possible to walk back again), I will tell you this: no atheistic argument has ever dismantled a person’s faith with such swift carnage as seeing someone enact persistent evil in God’s name, someone refusing to call a lie a lie, someone winking at violence or injustice while cloaking themselves in Christian garb.

This past week, as a violent mob stormed our Capitol, beat a police officer to death, and contributed to the death of four others, we saw “Jesus saves” flags and other religious rhetoric and paraphernalia ensconced as part of the seamless accoutrements of this unhinged mayhem. Then, as smoke cleared and Congress climbed out of hiding, numerous professing Christians went to great lengths to downplay our President’s role where, all to save his ego, he stoked this madness with deliberate, systemic lies.

And this coddling has gone on for years. Look, I get competing political philosophies and genuine matters of ethical conviction and quandaries on profoundly important matters. But no tax policy, no abortion law, no judge, no defense of religious freedom justifies a political alliance where the faith that we are supposedly upholding contributes to such in-your-face, acute evil. David Brooks said that we are a “flawed and humiliated nation.” We are also a flawed and humiliated church.

As one who believes with all my heart in Jesus’ story of righteousness, justice, goodness and peace for the whole world, as one who clings to the world-bending story of Jesus’ cruciform love (choosing to die rather than clinging to power or using power in an unholy way), the power-grabs, the rampant narcissism, the persistent dishonesty–and our inability to clearly name it–have inflicted incalculable harm. God, forgive us.

A friend asked me why I thought so many of the younger generation are abandoning the Church. There are numerous reasons I’m still pondering—but these days it’s rarely because our teaching is too zany, never because our music lacks enough thump. It’s not typically because we believe in “One God, the Father Almighty…” One reason they’re leaving in droves is because they don’t think we actually believe the stuff we say. And I’m in tears as I write because we have given them so many more reasons to think that really we don’t.

There is much evil we could name, plenty to go around. But this moment, this bit of words, is for those of us who name Jesus as Lord. I am heartbroken. God, forgive us.

10 Replies to “God, Forgive Us”

  1. Thank you for letting this spill from pen to parchment.

    “ Jesus’ cruciform love (choosing to die rather than clinging to power or using power in an unholy way)”


  2. Winn, Thank you for your message, and it does bring me to tears, too. I read in a devotion, our ” time is not the only generation to sin. Our world has been sinning since the Eden Garden and we know there is nothing new under the sun. It helps to know God is present in all of this. No one can escape God’s almighty gaze. We don’t get away with anything sinful here on earth. God will one day rectify that which is wrong. That which breaks our hearts will one day end, and justice will be achieved.” We just need to keep our eyes and minds focused on God. In doing that, we will not despair as we experience life in a fallen world. “And above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Col. 3:14

  3. Beautifully spoken true words Winn, thank you. It is essential to be places where ‘true’ words are spoken and heard; soul’s oxygen. “Members one of another’ must live truth or we cannot be. Yet somehow the very idea of truth/Truth has become an epithet, producing division instead of connection. I find myself disoriented, likely as culpable as anyone even as my heart continues to search for the Way through. I do remember that true speech is mostly not about words. Jesus was mute at a critical time (Matthew 27, Mark 15, John 18), pointing the Way. God forgive us, God forgive me. Grateful for you Winn. Mark

  4. Discovered you in Our Daily Bread. Those of us walking away from church are labeled “deconstructionists.” (Not necessarily a term of contempt.) We are not abandoning orthodoxy, but are worn out by embarrassing behaviors of churchgoers. I admire how you tackle “white elephants in the room.” You’ve thrown me an additional “life preserver” of reasonableness and common sense, along with other down-to-earth writers like Russell Moore and Sheridan Voysey.

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