The past few months have turned the world upside down and troubling events have pushed an already divided nation further apart. One of the beautiful aspects of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is that we are such a diverse group of people; however, in times when the country is divided, this same thinking can creep into churches. What can we do to stay together? To grow closer and not further apart?
The Bible is a good source for answering these questions. Take Daniel, for instance. As the days of Jeremiah’s prophecy were coming to a close, Daniel lifts up his voice to God in prayer. He says; O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments (Daniel 9:4, 5). As we continue reading the prayer, Daniel goes on to talk about the wickedness of Israel, but he does so by claiming it himself, saying, We have sinned (emphasis added). This is the key to united prayer, owning the behavior even if it is not your own, seeking the solution without pointing fingers.
Remember, Daniel was spied upon by his colleagues who desired his ruin. As they studied Daniel’s life, they could not find any point with which to destroy him so they turned to his God (Daniel 6:4). How many today could stand up to that type of scrutiny of their lives? Daniel was apparently a great guy. Yet Daniel, in his need to come to God, included himself in the sins of the nation.
Another similar example would be Moses. As he is on the mountain with God, the children of Israel make a golden calf to worship. After confronting them, he goes back to God and, while he doesn’t claim the sin himself, he asks God to give him the same punishment, saying, Blot me out of Your book which You have written (Exodus 32:32). Both Daniel and Moses could have pointed to the rest of the nation and named them “the problem,” removing themselves from the punishment, but these leaders didn’t.
Jesus prayed, too. Whole nights of it! And He asked His Father for unity. He asked that we be made one just as He and the Father are one (John 17:22). He could have just pointed to us as “the problem,” but He didn’t. Jesus bore our burdens and brought us a solution, a new life through Him. Let us imitate Christ and bear others’ burdens. Let us imitate Daniel and Moses as they counted themselves a part of the troubled nation, and let us pray as they did. Pray for unity in our church, and back up that prayer with understanding, empathy and love.
Josh Voigt is the pastor of the North Aurora Church in North Aurora, Ill. He also serves as the Prayer Ministries leader for the Illinois Conference. Josh and his wife, Celeste, are graduates of Southern Adventist University and Andrews University. They have three children: Nathan, Jack and Anna. Josh’s mission is to introduce everyone to his best Friend, Jesus.