I've been meditating on Psalm 89 this morning. It is a little longer Psalm than many, but it works through a variety of emotions and circumstances which I think is important.
It is thankful, yet lamenting.
It ascribes creation to God, and confirms his sovereignty over it all. Yet, it also questions his immanence in the life of the Psalmist in particular circumstances. There is an understanding of the promises and love of God throughout the Psalm, but also of our consistent ability to reject and ignore God.
Actually, it seems to even go so far as to state how it appears to the author that God is not upholding these promises, or at least is allowing the very opposite to happen (v. 38-45).
And finally, even in questioning and lamenting, there is faith. Blessed be the LORD forever! (v.52)
Can we not feel this in life today?
Over the past three years in my seminary journey there has been a tremendous amount of learning about God and the promises of his Kingdom which provide hope. However, there is also the questions that arise with it, about where these promises are being realized in the today. Our prayer is for God's kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven. This is the promise of Jesus, that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
I believe in this promise. I believe in the faithful lovingkindness of God. I believe that Christ in Lord and Savior of my life, and that this is not individual but communal. In other words, that the church, the people of God, can and should be a united extension that participates in the purposes of God. Yet I am challenged with how the further I have pursued this journey, the distancing that I have encountered from the traditions of my past. Somehow, as I pursue faithfulness in Jesus Christ, I realize how focused on our own actions the churches I have been involved with have been. I don't mean this as condemnation - far from it! I think the easiest way to state what I mean, is that we need to focus on God, on knowing him and knowing others, which is love. Being a "Christ follower" does not mean trying our best to do what the New Testament says about the ways of life of a Christian, or even trying to live as Christ lived.
These are aspects, but the emphasis MUST be on transformation, and understanding how we are being made into the likeness of Christ. I just really do not think this means I need to try harder to not be angry, to tithe, or even to serve others and fight social injustices.
Yet a Christian does all these things, when we are transformed into God's nature. The focus is not on the rule, but the rule-giver. After all, salvation is a gift of grace. Not cheap grace, in that we can do whatever we want. But it also is not a grace that reverts to an emphasis on works afterwards. Paul does address this when he speaks of faith without works being dead. What Paul is getting after is that when we are transformed, when we have faith that God has promised us transformation, this changes us into being and living according to His ways.
Obedience does not mean we love, but loving means we are obedient. Loving means being known by God, and knowing God. Obedience is not the emphasis, but love is. When I am being transformed by the Spirit, choosing to act out of this Spirit becomes more and more natural. It will never be perfect in this life, but it is the righteousness of being Holy as the LORD is Holy. We don't try harder to be Holy, we are made Holy. We yield to this Spirit, and it truly is giving up, not trying harder.
How did I get here from Psalm 89? Because these are the promises of God. And yet I do not seem to be experiences in particular circumstances their fulfillment. It doesn't mean I doubt God exists or loves me. It doesn't mean I don't have faith. But neither does it mean that I cannot ask God why these promises are currently unfulfilled. On why distance from others seems to consume much of my motivation. Perhaps I am selfish in wanting to participate in ways that matter, and this is what I need to yield. Because in a world of constant, and I mean CONSTANT, division over thoughts, can I not hold to God's promises? Yes - I must, and this leads to rejoicing in who God is, in understanding His promises, and of lamenting the ways that I have not been participating, or see how these promises are applicable today.
Please understand that through the above discourse, I choose Jesus Christ and his faithfulness. I choose to seek first the Kingdom of God. I choose to Bless the LORD forever! Even if I don't experience the promises in the ways that I want to...I continue to seek Him, to yield to His Spirit. He is faithful, and his lovingkindness is everlasting! Amen and Amen.