Here is a verse from the Bible that seems perfect for Canada Day: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2nd Chronicles 7:14 NIV). But can we claim this verse and promise for our land and our time? Really this promise belonged to a people and time, God’s people in the Old Testament, and is an expression of the old covenant. As Christians in Canada we are not old covenant people but new so we will want to be careful not to misapply this verse. Does this mean that this promise and many others like it in the Old Testament are irrelevant to us today?
The onset, and sometimes onslaught of summer reminds me of one summer as a student. Having finished a year of school my focus was on working as many hours as possible and, being a believer that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” it was also my goal to fit in as much fun as I could. So after most shifts at work I’d hop on the motorcycle and go visit my parents trailer for a sail or canoe trip or swim, or often all of the above. My Mum noticed my “all go” attitude and said to my Dad, “Ian, tell Clarke what happens when you light the candle at both ends.” Without hesitation my Dad turned to me and said “you get a brighter light.”
Reflecting on Canada Day there is no doubt that our nation could use a brighter light. Jesus asks the Church to be that light: “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV). But is the church in Canada shining brightly? It seems to flicker throughout the land, sometimes brightly filling us with hope, at other times subdued and waning. Where do we begin in seeing our light shining brightly? How can we get this candle lit on both ends?
Some would say work harder and longer. But there is a better way to begin: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2nd Chronicles 7:14 NIV). While this promise is not specifically for our nation in our day there is no doubt that our Lord is looking for His people in all times and all places to be a people of confession and repentance. The process of repentance cannot take place without humility. It cannot happen without prayer. It will not happen without a desire for the presence of God. And repentance will not happen without a conscious bending of the will to God’s will, a thought out change of behaviour. This is where a brighter light has its beginning.
If the Church across Canada were to come to this place of repentance, what a blessing the Church would be to Canada. What a light we could be!