Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 140. (MsgB)
A David Psalm.
God, get me out of here, away from this evil; protect me from these vicious people.
All they do is think up new ways to be bad; they spend their days plotting war games.
They practice the sharp rhetoric of hate and hurt, speak venomous words that maim and kill.
God, keep me out of the clutch of these wicked ones, protect me from these vicious people;
Stuffed with self-importance, they plot ways to trip me up, determined to bring me down.
These crooks invent traps to catch me and do their best to incriminate me.
Back in the day, when King David was composing songs like Psalm 140, it was pretty easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. When David complains to God about those other folks out there who are constantly thinking up new ways to be bad, spending their days plotting war games, I’m guessing that he was referring to Israel’s long-time enemies like the Jebusites, the Amorities, the Canaanites, and other assorted ‘ites’. Today, however, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look over the lay of the land across America and determine that many of the people who seem to have the most vengeance and viciousness dripping from their fangs are the Christian-ites!
Oh yeah, I know that this blog today is gonna set some of you off, but I guess since I’m nearing the end of our 150-sessions of pondering the Psalms, I can afford to sound off just a bit. If you’ve been reading along with me thus far, maybe you’ll hear my heart when I say this…
In a world where hatred and division is the standard fare for the day and where ‘divide and conquer’ seems to be the strategy for success, why is it that so many of us Christians decide that the best way to evangelize the rest of the world is by going around pointing out all the bad stuff coming out of the lives of those other ‘bad guys’? You know what I mean?
Just recently, I was doing an innocent Google search on the theme of the increasing interest in spiritual direction and spiritual formation coaching in the particular association of churches to which my wife and I belong. I found a few good articles that were truly helpful to my search, but wow…I also found a pile of articles written by other ‘well-advanced’ Christians who decided that they had been appointed both judge and jury of my tribe. One article basically called my group of churches (or any other group of Christians who dared to delve into any forms of spiritual direction) as heretics, worthy of being burned at the stake. Basically, this ‘well-meaning’ Christian author went on to lambast nearly every tribe of Christianity outside of his own.
Now before you think I’m just getting on my soapbox, ranting and raving over one idiot who doesn’t know his head from his tail, let me add that recently, I’ve noted a huge increase of highly critical writings being posted on-line, written by Christians who’ve decided to become the doctrinal police for the entirety of the Christian faith. It seems that bashing gays is no longer enough for many. Now some have decided to bash just about any group or individual who might just be brave enough to say that we Christians might want to try a different route in our relationships other than bashing our enemy.
Today it seems like anyone who might suggest that accepting love would be a better choice of weapon than pounding the brains out of our enemy is quickly taken to the alley and beaten to a pulp himself. Love a homosexual? Love a Muslim? Love a Catholic? Love a Democrat? Love anyone different from ourselves? And bam. Suddenly you are black-listed by the doctrinal police and castigated by Christians who know much better than even Jesus did!
So…all that to the say this…
Maybe when King David wrote his Psalm asking God to get him away from his god-less enemies, times were such that it made more sense than it does today. But before I close, let’s consider this, my fellow Christians.
Keep in mind, my dear brothers and sisters of the faith, that Jesus of Nazareth, our supreme commander, gave very explicit direction to His followers that we Christians were not supposed to follow suit with the rest of the world, especially when it comes to hating anybody and everybody who is different from ourselves. As a matter of fact, I recall the Master saying…
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6: 27)
And didn’t Paul write this…
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 19-21)
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” (1stCorinthians 13: 4-8)
Maybe we are living in those last days Jesus talked about in Matthew 24: 12…
“Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.”
If indeed we are, my dear Christian friends, living in such a time, may I encourage us all to go against the tide of hating and let God’s agape love be our calling card in the days ahead. For His name’s sake!
My prayer: Father, forgive us! For so many times in our lives, we know not what we do. Jesus, in times when its’ fashionable to be openly critical of others, empower me to hold my tongue. Spirit, when others are ranting and raving against the evil they see in others, allow me to be used as an instrument of Your peace. May I be known as one who loves, even when that love doesn’t always make sense to the established Christian community. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where am I choosing to be ultra-critical of others who are different from me? Whether it be other Christians I don’t agree with, or men or women of different faiths who believe differently than me, how can I become an instrument of peace and healing as compared to being one who points the finger and judges quickly before all the facts are in?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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