In light of events this past week the following entry in The Social Principles of Jesus struck me deeply. It is in the second chapter, “Solidarity of the Human Family.” I have provided the scripture reading in the English Standard Version.
Matthew 11:20-24 English Standard Version (ESV)
Woe to Unrepentant Cities
Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
FIFTH DAY: SOLIDARISTIC RESPONSIBILITY
We know that by constant common action a social group develops a common spirit and common standards of action, which then assimilate and standardizes the actions of its members. Jesus felt the solidarity of the neighborhood groups in Galilee with whom he mingled. He treats them as composite personalities, jointly responsible for their moral decisions.
- What groups of which we have been a part in the past have stamped us with the group character for good or evil? How about those of which we are now part?
- What have we learned from the Great War about national solidarity?
I remember reading Nehemiah’s prayer of confession in Nehemiah chapter 1 as a child. You can read it by clicking here. Nehemiah fasts and prays — confessing the sins of his nation and his forefathers. Pleading that God would forgive him and forgive them. I remember thinking to myself, ” What the heck, this wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault! He was a GOOD man! Why does he have to confess for something he didn’t even do!”
But Nehemiah, along with the other writers of scripture and wise individuals since them like Rauschenbusch, recognized that we are part of “composite systems” — stamped for better or worse with group characteristics and responsible for corporate sins.
I’m tempted to spend the rest of this blog pointing out where I see others lacking the mature sense to take responsibility for our current “composite personality.” But instead…
I’m sorry and I confess…
- … for the sins of my forefathers that have stained me, shaped me, and which through action or inaction I have accepted as my own sins.
- …for not standing up for the disenfranchised and oppressed.
- …for not speaking up for those without a voice.
- …for not seeing Christ in the other and for not receiving them with that realization.
- …for demonizing both those on the right and the left of me politically, theologically, socially. I am sorry and recognize that I am the problem for which I point my finger at you. Please forgive me!