The “Urgent Call” and the Lord’s Prayer

“We cannot allow a government that is built on lies and injustice,” reads the “Urgent Call” circulated among Friends in the United States this spring, and brought before yearly meetings this summer. But we’ve been allowing one since our Founding Fathers lied! They said they held it self-evident that all men were created equal, but then legislated that enslaved persons would count as only three-fifths of a person each! And Jesus allowed (yes, allowed: Matthew 26:53, John 10:18) a government based on lies and injustice to put Him to death as a common criminal. Before Moses led them to freedom, the Israelites allowed Pharaoh’s government of lies and injustice for centuries! When did the People of God Called Quakers (as we used to call ourselves) become a people that takes matters into their own hands, not caring what God thinks of what we do? For nowhere, nowhere in the “Urgent Call” is God mentioned! If we are not a covenanted people of God, I have no further business calling myself a Quaker!

But I agree that there is real cause for concern about the state of the polity of the United States — our culture, our agreement on the basic rules of civilized life, our expectation of truthfulness and fair-mindedness from one another. Therefore I suggest that Friends look for guidance in one of our most familiar foundational documents, the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).

In this model prayer that Jesus gives us, we ask first of all for God’s kingdom to come, and God’s will to be done. If we say that and mean it, we renounce our own pretenses to kingship and our insistence that reality conform to our will. We may then pray to God for deliverance from a government built on lies and injustice, and boldly ask God to hurry up, or to use our willing hands to help (just as we, as children, might ask our own parent), but in our hearts we’re letting God be in charge — and asking for protection from temptation, particularly the temptation to try to seize control of what we see happening. If we intend to be obedient to God,  there’s no reason not to expect to hear God’s guiding and warning voice. We Quakers are believers in immediate revelation, remember? Many of us have heard it!

Finally, I urge Friends to consider the two verses that follow the giving of the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:14 and 15. There we’re warned — we all being serial trespassers — that if we want our own trespasses forgiven, we must forgive all trespasses against ourselves: this includes all persons we consider responsible or complicit in establishing “a government that is built on lies and injustice.” We must wish their repentance and salvation: God does. Ask God.

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