Loving God and Hating Evil
September 30, 2017
What do you hate? What angers your soul?
Perhaps the key to knowing that is to identify what you love most and what warms your soul with life purpose.
The psalmist wrestled with the competing forces of eternal goodness and pervasive evil. He was faced with arrogance of the wicked and it triggered his deepest resistance.
Arrogance is no friend of truth, righteousness, justice, and God. Boasting is no companion of goodness. It attracts the same judgment upon ourselves that we think we want for everyone else. It is egocentric, narrow, distorted, and unbecoming of those given power to exercise for the good of others.
We have all been given power to exercise for the good of others.
Grant, oh God, that I shall not be counted among the evil doers today. This is not a trite request. The potential is ever present for me to be very, very bad and do great damage to Your cause and Your people. Lead me not, into temptation and deliver me from evil for All power, all Kingdom authority, and all glory is Yours. Amen.
They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast." - Psalm 94:4 ESV
We live in a real world where atrocities are as close as our television and computer screens or our radios --- or even a trip across town. We are invited to complain to God. Here is one that is fairly useful even today:
"They crush your people, O LORD,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”"
(Psalm 94:5-7 ESV)
We are invited to complain, but not to fret. Nations --- any nation and all nations --- only appear to be as potent as they portend. In the end, they also are subject to discipline and rebuke. It is the nations who are gathered for judgment in Matthew 25.
It is the powers of the earth who are evaluated and separated on the basis of how they treated the brethren of Jesus.
" For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’"
"Nations" can be translated "peoples," but implies our collective identities.
So, our powers are subject to higher authority.
"He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge - the LORD—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath." - Psalm 94:10-11 ESV
Reading on, we see institutionalized and legalized injustice, injustice framed by statute.
We must lawfully, respectfully, and peacefully resist statutes and institutionalized injustice.
This is a great tension, but is at the heart of non-violent resistance to all forms of racism and oppression of people. What I struggle with is how much of a price am I willing to pay in such resistance? Just being honest; it gets very comfortable just to go along with things as they are.
What do you think? Everyone will have their own interpretation of who the wicked are - some will say the Democrats; some will say the Republicans. No one will call out the minor "parties" for they are no threat. Some will say the multinational corporations; some will target "the media."
The point is, it is not "them" we should be targeting or concerned about .... IT IS WE!
"Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?" - Psalm 94:20 ESV
Governments, structures, systems, institutions and people themselves possess power. We are kings in our own realms of influence and position.
How we use power is at the core of the integration of our faith and our lives. Self interest and the interests of our own class, narrow community, constituencies, supporters, friends, and family cannot be counted as a quest for justice and equity. Justice and righteousness call forth a God-perspective on people and especially a bias for those whose voice is least likely to be heard. David was honored, in his time, for the perception that he was a champion of those who were poor, dispossessed, oppressed, and downtrodden.
"The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob."- Psalm 99:4 ESV
Am I ready of this? Am I ready to embrace a God who forgives me, but avenges my wrongdoings? I am when I understand that He absorbs the vengeance upon Himself and executes His wrath upon His own body. Then He counts it as if I have paid. This is the ironic and unfathomable mystery of mercy and grace with atonement and redemption. Jesus recites the psalms and then, like a magnet, attracts to himself, every curse and condemnation to the end that we may be forgiven.
"O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings." - Psalm 99:8 ESV
This seems like a rather logical progression:
Love God; then hate evil.
Anything else would be a contradiction.
But there have been such contradictions in history and one might venture to suggest that we have, ourselves, at times, led contradictory lives.
The opposite is integration of faith and life. Integration = Integrity.
"O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked." - Psalm 97:10 ESV
We get angry and then we get to choose what will become of our anger. Will we let God shape it into a force of loving defiance of the evil?
Will we let it reinforce our courage and resolve?
Will we let it be for good or will we allow it to create more evil.