Friday, December 13, 2013

What, then, shall we do?

Yesterday I was pondering the miserable state of the church in the west, and concluding that we are also at a low point in western culture generally, and I was thinking: what would our ecclesiastical forebears have done in this situation?  How would our forefathers have responded to the lack of evangelistic fruit which we have become used to?  What would they have done about the prevalence of sin in our lives and churches?  How would they have coped with the rapid move of general culture away from Christianity?

The lectionary directed me to Psalm 60, which is one of those Psalms we do nothing with.  If the heading is to be believed, it is a Psalm of David, written at a time of relative national faithfulness in Israel. Nevertheless, the theme is abandonment by God.  Verse 10 particularly struck me:

Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.

Faced with national defeat, the people of God do not look to new strategies.  Neither do they settle down and accept the calamity as inevitable.  They look to God.  Specifically, the Psalm addresses the problem of his absence.

The logic of the Psalm works like this:
Major premise: we are losing this war.
(Assumed) minor premise: God does not lose.
Conclusion: God is not with us.

This logic leads to renewed prayer to God for his help and salvation.  This would only make sense as an 'application' if the Psalmist knew full well that God's abandonment of his people was not total, and the rest of the Psalm shows that clearly.  God has set up a banner and a refuge for those who fear him, even in the midst of apparent abandonment of his people.  Because of this, the response to God's rejection is not despair, but a renewed seeking of his face.  Only he can save.

Might we not conclude from our own situation that God is not going forth, as it were, with our armies?  I think our forebears would have concluded that God is not with us.  They would have held solemn days of humiliation and fasting.  They would have examined themselves to see what sin was holding back God's blessing (NB. examined themselves, not the surrounding culture).  They would have earnestly prayed for God's return to them in power.

What about us?

With God we shall do valiantly.  But do we even want to?

1 comment:

  1. This is really helpful. Thanks for your encouragement.