Until recently, I had not thought about God requiring churches and nations to also have a clean heart. In researching this subject, I found the Bible was full of stories where God asks the nation Israel, cities, and churches (e.g. seven churches of Revelation) to repent of their corporate sin.
Like me, you might ask "For what sins might a church need to ask forgiveness?" We as a church would have to anwer questions such as these "As a church do we love our neighbor; as a church do we help the poor; as a church are we living the Great Commission; and as a church are we a house of prayer?"
God realized that groups of His people would commit corporate sins and would need to corporately ask His forgiveness. In Leviticus chapter 4, God gave instructions for how the nation of Israel should ask for forgiveness if they committed a corporate sin.
The process for a church or nation to to ask for forgiveness and obtain a clean heart is the same as the process for an individual. God's directions for a church or nation to have a clean heart is given in II Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
As we prepared for communion several Sundays ago, I read the prayer for corporate confession of sin from our United Methodist Hymnal with new meaning. Listen to the words:
“Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
As we prepare to take the Lord's Supper together before Easter, I encourage you to join me as we read this prayer and earnestly seek together a church with a clean heart.