Somehow I forgot to post this when it was written in 2010. Of course it seems as relevant now as it did then. This piece is an excerpt from my 2010 book Unearthed: How Discovering the Kingdom of God Will Transform the Church and Change the World.
Too many times we as Christians have been the loudest and most vocal voices and many times we have not represented or embodied the way, life, and teachings of your Son Jesus.
Our judgmental and condemning voices have become a poor representation of Jesus in the community and the larger world and have left many who do not know anything about Jesus with a bad taste in their mouths and a deep contempt for your Church.
Too many times we are quick to say that we are the “defenders of the faith,” or the “protectors of our Christians heritage.” Yet in our zealousness to defend, we have compromised the way of your son, Jesus, and have many times done it in his name.
Father we repent and ask for forgiveness, for we know that Jesus did not spend his time isolating and targeting special “sin groups” or trying to defend his positions through arguing and debating.
Father we ask humbly that you replace our ways with your ways.
For we know that the way of Jesus does not have to be defended; it must be demonstrated.
It never moves out in judgment; it moves out in love.
It never extends in condemnation to the world; it extends in grace and mercy.
The ways of arguing, defending, judging, and condemning always build up walls and embitters those in the world who are on the receiving end.
For every way that we as the Church have fallen short of representing you to the world, we ask for forgiveness.
Father, we are so eager to accept your grace, but are so unwilling to extend it. We are so eager to accept your love, but are so unwilling to demonstrate it. We are so eager to accept your mercy, but so unwilling to give it.
While we have known that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it, we have believed that it is our responsibility to condemn it.
While we have known that Jesus said he did not come into the world to judge it, we have believed it is our responsibility to judge it.
While we have known that Jesus told his followers to “judge not,” we have instead decided to judge anyway.
And while we have known that Paul asked the Church, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the Church?” we have instead decided that we should be the judges of the world?
God forgive us for not being like Jesus to the world.
Father, we need the strength to sacrifice our own wants, needs, desires, and pursuits.
Forgive us for the ways we have put idols within the Church ahead of you and your Kingdom.
Forgive us for the way we have worshipped facility and program over you.
Forgive us for the way we have followed human convention rather than your Spirit.
Father, we desperately need the fresh breath of your Holy Spirit to mold us and shape us into something useable and to open our eyes to the things that are not important to you.
We know that while we have been ignorant and negligent in understanding and extending your Kingdom, our calling and pursuit should be to model Christ by living and extending your Kingdom, giving ourselves self-sacrificially in love and service to the world, embodying a life of peace, justice, and mercy that becomes the yearning of all humanity.
Father, it is in this calling and pursuit that we have fallen woefully and painfully short. And it is because of our shortcomings with the world that we desperately need forgiveness.
Father, we need your power and strength to apologize to,and seek forgiveness from, any and all of those who have been on the receiving end of judgment, condemnation, or abuse from those of us who have labeled ourselves as Christians.
We deeply and prayerfully apologize and repent. We have not represented the love, grace, mercy, and heart of Jesus very well…and we desperately need your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the world.
To the atheist, agnostic, Jew, and Muslim, we prayerfully ask for your forgiveness.
To the homosexual, African-American, or any other minority that we have judged and oppressed in the past, we prayerfully ask for your forgiveness.
To the poor, enslaved, or victim of injustice, abuse, and neglect, we prayerfully ask for your forgiveness for judging you and turning a blind eye.
To every single expecting mother who sought an abortion, we ask for forgiveness for judging you and turning you into an issue and not demonstrating the lengths to which we would go to show you love, guidance, help, and assistance
And to every single person who has experienced anything less than the unconditional love of Christ from the Christian, we prayerfully ask for your forgiveness.
In Jesus name we as the Church in unity pray, Amen and Amen.