We in a culture of Them

by DanWolgemuth on November 12, 2021

Hanging in my office is an artist’s rendition of an 80 year old Daniel and a collection of lions. The familiarity of the story often robs me of the consequential impact.

Daniel. Courageous. Wise. Faithful. Loyal. Relevant. Brilliant.

The stuff of flannel graph stories. The stuff of epic cinematography.

While I love the diet managing, friend inspiring, dream telling, career advancing, vision casting, open-window praying, lion defying elements of the Daniel story… an often overlooked gem awaits discovery in the 9th chapter of the book. The likelihood of me being asked to interpret cosmic handwriting, or endure an overnight with wild animals is slim, but the posture exhibited in Daniel 9 is worthy of thoughtful consideration, and humble implementation.

Daniel, compelled and inspired by Jeremiah writes the following…

I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

Daniel. The hero. The courageous. The prominent… confesses.

His language is not the language of sweeping generalities, or focused blame… no, Daniel uses a compelling pronoun, and he does so on purpose.


The God fearing, Lord honoring, prayer committed, dream interpreting Daniel says “We”.

Not you. Not they. Not them, but we.

Sin is a community affair. And the conviction of sin can either divide or unite. Our posture is either a pointed finger or an open palm. One alienates, the other invites.

If I follow the example of Daniel, then I would list all the unrighteous acts that permeate our culture and the Church… and instead of trying to figure out who is to blame, or who to post about, I would fall to my knees in confession.

  • Lord, we have not listened to you.
  • Lord, we have not valued or defended the vulnerable, the least, the lonely.
  • Lord, we minimize the value of life in the womb and on the streets and in our prisons and in our nursing homes and across the sea.
  • Lord, we have believed in the ballot box more than the cross.
  • Lord, we blame, we hate, we divide, we distribute darkness when light is what you have declared that we are.
  • Lord, we have celebrated election results more than an empty tomb.
  • Lord, we despise other image bearers, and we do it in your name.

What if I, what if we, started to confess like Daniel? I know we want to eat like Daniel, to serve like Daniel, to dream like Daniel, to communicate like Daniel… perhaps, we’ve missed one of the main messages of the book, and of our God.

Inclusive confession. Blame embracing instead of blame shifting.

Then, and only then, can I implore God to do what God alone can do.

O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.

Our sin. His mercy.

More “we”, less “you” or “them”.

Because of His great mercy, hear OUR prayer.

Heal us. Unite us. Use us.

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