Saturday, March 23

A Hidden Seed

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord?
There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
Psalm 14 

I'm inclined to think of an atheist as a person who brazenly states that they don't believe in God. But I think the kind of atheist the psalms talk about—especially Psalm 14—is the person who, despite the faith they claim to have, truly lives their life as though there is no God to be accountable to. Those who say they're non-believers may yet live ethical lives, and even work for peace and justice in the world. I can respect such people, as long as they don't persecute people of faith. But what of the person who says they're a believer and yet amasses great wealth and stockpiles of weapons, who promotes inequality and warfare, and who says vile things about those they disagree with and whose actions do great injury to the already downtrodden?

Our country is currently being run by an extreme group of atheists who use the words "god" and "bible" to make their horrible deeds acceptable to the masses. It seems that the visible church is under the sway of the wicked. Yet though the true "church is not always visible in the world, and," said Calvin, "there are not many who follow God, [yet] there remains a hidden seed." So just as the psalmist didn't despair, so I should have hope, too. This atheistic régime won't last forever.

However, deliverance won't come from human schemes, but from God at work in Zion. And the Christian interpretation of the concept of Zion is that it is the church—not the so-called "evangelicals" who support injustice and immorality, but all those who are truly called of God and have God's love in their hearts, for to love God is to work for justice and promote peace.

Though deliverance comes from God, God's people are not passive recipients in the coming kingdom, but active participants in the joyful work of bringing good news to the oppressed, binding up the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to captives and release to the imprisoned, and proclaiming the time of God's favor [Isa. 61:1-2].

Give me a spirit of discernment, O God, that I might tell the difference between those who truly love your Name in vain and those who speak it in vain. And help me not to despair when the latter holds sway, but to believe in my heart that you will act on behalf of those who trust in you and depend on you for deliverance; in Jesus' Name, who taught me to pray: Our Father...

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