I’m pretty well-versed in Scripture passages that call on God to make me a better person. One of the most familiar to me is Psalm 51, which I fell right into reciting this morning as I read: A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me…I was, however, somewhat surprised by the end of the previous reading from the prophet Ezekiel and went back to read it again after finding what I expected in Psalm 51. It sounds like a slight difference in nuance but makes a huge difference in “job description” between us and God. Here’s what it says at the end of a long commentary on the virtuous and unvirtuous in “the House of Israel”:
Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you. Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourself a new heart and a new spirit. (EZ 18:31)
Maybe I’m putting too much of a fine point on things but that seems a new wrinkle in the fabric of responsibility in my life. I thought we were supposed to turn from our “crimes” – large or small – and that God would be the one to create our hearts anew – a perspective consonant wit the psalmist’s view. This looks like we need to wake up to our own more participative role in becoming who we are called to be. It’s just a thought – but for me a quite powerful distinction that does not allow me to passively wait for God’s action in my life but rather to join God in the process of realizing my own deepest, most authentic self.