"The LORD helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him." -Psalm 37:40
Wow! The year is over. Can you believe it? We have so much to be thankful for, so much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to. Thank God I decided to weed through my thought life on the blog this morning as I was interested in seeing what I became neurotic about these last twelve months (if you know me personally, the term neurotic is almost an understatement once I get caught on a subject). I'm so grateful that during this time of reflection I was able to recognize that outside of my own hand written journal this blog was true therapy. It became my way of asking myself to answer my own hard questions, challenging myself to search for truth and drawing a line in the sand that I was going to press into the truth of God in Christ even if it makes me seem nuts. My blog life became the area in which I could no longer lie, I could no longer deny and I could not run away from what I had typed. If I said it, I was going to have to answer to it.
Another great aspect of this personal blog review was that by His grace I was able to see that I/we never finished "40 Days of Psalm 37". In my defense, it wasn't that I actually forgot about the importance of going over this Psalm, but honestly, I have been on such a search for truth within the Christian culture (or lack of truth), that I unfortunately began to compartmentalize my "transformation" time with God as something I didn't need to share on the blog (even though that's where the Psalm 37 series stemmed from) and turned to asking questions about the way we Christians have been transformed by culture as opposed to God's Spirit. Just to be clear, my hope in leaving the Psalms series was never to make you feel bad about the way we've done "things" in our walk with God but instead to challenge brothers and sisters in Christ as well as anybody who stumbles on to this little blog (if they're a friend I'm aware it was out of pity) to search for truth. I pray that my questions and answers always turned them to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Today's Psalm truly encompasses the answers to all of my questions and supports my thoughts about Christ as I've pressed into Him over the past year. It also sums up the entire series of "Trusting Truth...". Today's message of Psalm 37:40 is that we need to be reminded of where our eternal security lies and how much we can trust the Triune God to deliver us from finite evil. He is the only eternal security available in a world that is sure to burn. The author David states this so clearly and if we are to read the entire Book of Psalms the way it was written (without chapters and verses) we would see the beautiful, passionate, truthful, hopeful and authentic confessions of a man who knew the truth of God's love and eternal plan of salvation even as he struggled with depression, enemies, fear, violence and uncertainty in his own life. His words in the Psalms are a constant reminder of God's constant unchanging love for us, even in the midst of our sin, trial and denial.
From the point of view of a realist (I don't consider myself a blind optimist or pessimist) the year 2010 promises to be one of hardship, turmoil, suffering, uncertainty, fear, and downright panic in the lives of those who don't know Christ (as well as those who say "Lord, Lord..." but never have truly known Him). We live in a world dominated by those who desire power, money and control and that will not change no matter who is in office or running big businesses. In my opinion this passion to rule the world through politics has less to do with their position as much as it has to do with their eternal condition. Without the only One who is a refuge in the time of need, the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the One who causes all of creation to sing of His majesty and the One who makes His eternal Kingdom an option now through Christ; those who don't truly know God must continue in the darkness of a finite life trying to catch the air in their little finite hands.
I don't claim to be the Old Testament prophet type but these coming days of 2010 and beyond promise to be extremely difficult for followers of Jesus. We can expect to be persecuted, made fun of, mocked, starve, and even be killed (Sound familiar to somebody we know and love?). We can also expect continued disunity within the "body" as we love the Lord but don't look to Him as the Head that directs His members. Because of our forgetfulness of who wants "Headship" we lose sight that we are to be the expression of who he is, and resort to being an expression of who He'd want us to be if WE were Him.
With these coming days of tribulation I hope that we don't see this season as a reason for us to rise up and "try harder" to bring people to Christ through our own efforts of great teaching, evangelism, or through politics in the wisdom of the world. Though these things may be a great plan to man our own wisdom and hurried nature is never the best plan to God. Plus, for the record, I'm not sold on our own best ideas of marketing Christianity to the masses which have failed miserably in their attempts to bring people to actually know Jesus as opposed to hear about Him constantly.
Instead, I'm hopeful that we will be transformed by the "renewing of our minds" instead of by one great book by a Christian author who seems to be in touch with one area you are passionate about. I am hoping that we begin to become the ones who are willing to trust and obey God even if it means turning the other cheek so that the "slapper" may know the love of God. I pray that we will take on the mind of Christ in every area and be transformed by the Holy Spirit so that we may live out the love of our risen Lord. And while I oppose gay marriage, I am never actually for the gay bashing that goes on because of it. I truly do find it hard to understand why is it that we reach out in love to the drunk in the street, the witch doctor in Africa, the drug addict on skid row or the corporate millionaire who just lost His wife to cancer but our Western culture of Christians has decided to hate gays? Does that mean we need to "save them"? No! God is the enabler of the heart. But it does mean we need to love them, in spite of their lifestyle. In case we forgot, Jesus wasn't worried about positions, race, creed, religion, or social status, so we need not be. "Repent and follow me" was a message to the Pharisee as much as it was the Samaritan woman. All I can say is that our response and action towards those not like us should always be from the transformed version of us, not in our Pharisidic Christian version that picks and chooses the laws and sins we think need the most treatment.
In my opinion, the coming year is a time in which we don't need to figure out how to get Christianity right and instead need to re-focus on becoming like Christ through the transformation by His Holy Spirit and through communion with the rest of His body who serves under His headship. We constantly need to be reminded that "winning souls" has nothing to do with us or what we've done and instead has everything to do with Him and what He's called us to do corporately. We need to remember that loving people has to do with a calling from God to be the love of Christ to a world in the darkness, and not as another way for us to try harder to make God love us more by doing what He asks. He can't love you any more than He already does! Lastly, we need to remember like David tells us in this Psalm that we have an eternal refuge in God, we have the eternal answer to death in Christ and that we can put all of our trust in a God who promises to deliver us no matter how difficult things may get. The message of 2010 is the message Jesus gave a bunch of ragtag guys in the 1st century,
""If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26)
Friends, brothers and sisters, the call is to trust and obey. To allow God to be God and us to be an expression of His love as we come to the end of our "self's" for His sake.
May your new year be prosperous in the relationships you build, in the truth you obtain, in the love you give and in the light you walk in! See you next year!