Our generation has venerated slander and consecrated verbal abuse. We feel fully justified to speak ill of our neighbors as long as we perceive them to be ideological enemies. We have the audacity to think that when our words are graceless, they can be godly, that we are somehow like Him or he like us when we speak against another with venom, half-truth, misquotes, presumptive assumptions, anger, or malice. Such speech has nothing to do with God. God is not like us that way.
“You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother's son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you."-Psalm 50:19-21 ESV
Paul refers to the outer accouterments of our religious traditions and does not dismiss them, but he also warns against letting them be standards for judging people because,
"These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ."-Colossians 2:17 ESV
What is the substance of your faith?
Our God is loud, but never noisy. The still, small voice also thunders. The subtle nudge can exercise complete abandonment of ambiguity. His breath of fire clears a path before Him. He is no simple sentimental decorative deity to be hung above the mantle and admired. He is far more than that and every so often, we hear Him and know that He is still paying attention. I gives us a strange comfort.
“Our God comes; he sdoes not keep silence;
before him is a devouring fire,
around him a mighty tempest." - Psalm 50:3
A self-sufficient God is the only sort of God we can fully trust. God does not need our affirmation or anything at all from us. All of His vulnerability is voluntary and temporary. We see it in incarnation, but even then, it is the vulnerability of service and love.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine." - Psalm 50:12