Singing As We Plant #7
Take time to read the entirety of Psalm 7:1-17 and then come back and read the following verses again.
Arise, O Lord, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.
The Lord judges the peoples;
“Will you fix this?”
Those were my questions to God, asked through tears as I parked my car. I had just listened to the news report on the radio that spoke of the gang rape of a mentally challenged teenage girl. The torture had been recorded on a cell-phone camera and was being virally distributed in the country that I called home. I longed for vengeance. I was desperate for justice. But nothing came. Arrests were made…bail was granted…the girl has to live on with the horror. The men will probably go to prison, but it doesn’t feel like justice.
What is God doing in the world? Is he doing anything at all about it? Are these even the kinds of questions human beings are allowed to ask — never mind church pastors and planters?
What is God doing in the world? Is he doing anything at all about it?
David goes a step further. He says that it felt like God may have nodded off. He cries out to God to wake up and do something in the face of fierce injustice and wickedness. Now, David knew as well as I do that God never sleeps. That is clear from scripture. What he was expressing is that sometimes his silence feels to us like he is sleeping. It feels like he isn’t in control.
There are two stages to David’s next prayer. First he prays to God concerning his own life: ‘judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.’ This is a bold prayer. It is the prayer of one who, standing on the solid ground of the Law of God, knows right from wrong and dares to call evil evil, and who is yet conscious of his own fallibility and his own need of God’s searching eye on his own life. The second stage is even bolder:
Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God!
David dreamed of the day when God would rule and reign in a perfect theocracy.
We all know that governments can’t fix the problem. Democracy is a truly wonderful thing – by far the most just of human systems – but it can’t fix the human condition and the wickedness that dwells in us. But one day it will all be fixed.
Along with David, I long for that day. I long for a new heaven, and a new earth.
I can’t wait for a new me, and a new you. A trustworthy King, and a city that will endure forever.
In the meantime, it is left to the church to bring glimpses of that new kingdom to earth. As Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
But even as I commit to that mission today again, I can’t help feeling that it is ingrained in my DNA to long for another home. I want God to step in and make it right. Come on Lord! We wait for you.
Churches bring glimpses of the new kingdom to earth, church-plants bring glimpses of the new kingdom to new places.
Singing As We Plant
The church brings glimpses of that new kingdom to earth, and church-plants bring glimpses of that new kingdom to earth in new places.
One way we do this is through our preaching. Without forgetting common grace, and its beauty, we point to the distinctively Christian humanity that Jesus Christ is creating in his people. We call people back to the image of God and we show how all wickedness is in fact a negation of that creative purpose and invites God’s righteous judgment. Racism – abortion – rape – murder – all sin is against God and is intent on destroying the image of God in the perpetrator and in the victim. The rest of the psalm is so instructive:
My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.
If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.
Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.
He makes a pit, digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.
His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.
I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
– Psalm 7:10-17
We provide glimpses of God’s new society through our community life, too. If, in the world, evil, mischief and lies hold sway, in the church we display goodness, compassion and truth. Then not only we, but others, will sing praise to God because of his righteousness.
May our church-plants have the salty flavour of the gospel as it renews us and purifies us.
Father, forgive me for the faithlessness that leads me to believe, some days, that you have vacated your post as sovereign Lord who reigns with mercy and justice. Give me eyes to see where you are at work in the world. Teach our church to be a community which advances your kingdom on earth, and hasten the day when your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is in Jesus’ mighty name we pray.