Monday, December 19, 2011

Know The Enemy

A Christ-follower reading the Psalms has to contend with Jesus' command in
Matthew 5:44-48 (NLT)

"But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

What do we do when we encounter passages like Psalm 3?

Psalm 3:7 (NLT)
Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!

I think we have to keep the passage in historical context on one level, realizing that the psalmist was talking about real, physical enemies. It was fully within the Old Testament understanding that God would bless, protect and shield the "insiders" while punishing those outside the covenant. "Us" versus "them" was very much the thinking woven into old covenant theology.

But as Christians I think we also have to realize that our enemies are spiritual forces in high places seeking to destroy humankind in general. We humans now are called upon to unite against this common enemy, manifested in all the spiritual wrestlings within our souls, selves and communities.

"We do not wrestle against flesh and blood," but against the spiritual forces that produce selfishness, hatred, fear and violence of all sorts within us. These are the true enemies that are robbing peace and security from the world.

-- gmc --

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Visions of an Angry God

Psalm 2:1
Why are the nations so angry?

... Wars are continually waged throughout history by nations. Why?

Psalm 2:3 (NLT)
"Let us break their chains," they cry, "and free ourselves from slavery to God."

... Ultimately it seems that war is really a rejection of God's supremacy and authority.

Psalm 2:12 (NLT)
Submit to God's royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities- for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

... I can't help but think that in the OT, references to an angry God who suddenly strikes out to destroy the "bad nations," shows our human frailties and our need to be kept in line through fear, more than revealing the true nature of God - especially as revealed in Jesus Christ.

... Perhaps the most significant aspect of how Jesus affects our view of scripture is the way he challenges and overturns these visions of an angry God.

-- gmc --

Monday, December 5, 2011

Psalms read through the Lens of Jesus Christ

Psalm 1

For Christians the Old Testament becomes an entirely different book because we are required (and enabled) to read it through a new lens. This is seen immediately in the first Psalm. At first glance it is a poem about the great chasm that exists between "the wicked," and "the righteous." The original readers would interpret it as a warning to make sure we are on the right side of the line, squarely amongst the "right" folks who are doing the "right" stuff.

But to Christians it should remind us of our true predicament. We should be aware that "all have sinned and fallen short..." and remind us that our only hope for being declared righteous is through the grace of God and what he does for us in Christ. To a Christian Ps.1 becomes a song of gratitude for being declared righteous by faith and not by our own doing.

-- gmc --