Sharon’s done a great job grounding us in the Christian part of the Christian speculative fiction MLP specializes in through her Sunday devotionals. I’m here to spell her for August; she deserves the break after a job faithfully and well performed.
Christian theology ought to transcend individuals, cultures, geography, era, personality, the any other categories or isms we can imagine, at least in its foundations, what C.S. Lewis termed mere Christianity, much like science or mathematics is commonly thought to do. In this, I’ll offer rough thoughts from my own Sunday morning teaching/preaching and perhaps a nod in the direction of a Main Thing once in a while, in honor of the dearly departed WhereTheMapEnds newsletter. But, in the end, I anticipate—and certainly hope for—a seamless transition back and forth between Sharon and me, and other authors, be there any.
Tomorrow, as I write this late Saturday night, I will teach, God willing, from an assigned text: Psalm 146. Here’s the text:
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
2 I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.
Now, the heading that came with my textual assignment read Praise the Lord’s Justice. Indeed, we ought to praise his justice, along with all his other actions, attributes, and perfections. But it seems to me, this heading misses a central point of this particular Psalm.
Pointedly, those whose help is the God of Jacob have received mercy, not justice. For me as a sinner to have food for my hunger or to have my cause upheld—along with all the other cases mentioned—is an act of mercy on the part of God, not justice. Whenever God mediates between sinners it is a mercy on his part, for we deserve no more than his justice, the same as when he forgives our sin. The justice in this psalm is found in verse 9, where God frustrates the ways of the wicked. Frankly, my ways deserve to be frustrated, and when they are not, it is mercy, not justice.
The church would do well to remember the distinction between mercy and justice, and remember that none receive injustice from God. For after all, how many tomorrow in this world will go hungry, will reside as prisoners not set free, and will remain blind? How many foreigners will be abused and how many fatherless and widows will wither? How many will remain bowed down?
God is the maker of heaven and earth and will do righteously as he sees fit. May I never forget for a moment that he has seen fit to extend mercy to me rather than what I have earned, and may the redeemed never cease to praise the Lord. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob.
Soli Deo Gloria