Thursday, January 10, 2019

Psalms 117:1-2 -- On Nations and People and Praise

"O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord."
Psalms 117:1-2

This is a very short Psalm, and I really like it because when I read it today it reminded me that those of us included in "all ye nations" means everyone, and that praise of the Lord is something that can unite us.

It's hard sometimes to be understood with a message like that, because it is easy to go too far both ways.  I absolutely do not mean using religion as a club and persecuting everyone who doesn't agree with God, or with us.  I also don't mean that God loves us all so much that he doesn't care what we do.  He's not a senile grandmother, perfectly happy defending her serial-killer grandchildren.

God does love all of us, even when we sin, and he also wants us NOT to sin.  Those things are not incompatible.  God loves people from every religion and belief, but that doesn't mean that he approves of all churches or the practices of all nations or individuals.  God has commandments, and they matter, but they also don't mean that we have the right to think that we are better than other people, no matter how righteous.  That was one of the traps of the pharisees in Christ's time, right?

True worship of God is about drinking in His pure love, and then joining together and sharing that love by caring about other people as God does.  And he loves us all, no matter our nation, or beliefs, or sin level, and he works diligently to help us learn about and love each other.  His merciful kindness truly is great, and he is willing to share it with us so that we can share it with one another.  Let's remember that we are *all* imperfect and learning and that we all desperately need God in our lives.  Let's remember that we're in this together, and maybe let's think about what it really means to love other people as brothers, and in the same way we love ourselves, because I think we all have a long way to go in that area. 

Today, let's join together in worshiping the Lord, and let that be something that unites us and helps us love the people around us more rather than distancing ourselves or thinking of them as somehow part of some other group or family.  They are ours--part of us, no matter who they are or how we have been thinking of them.  Let's unite with them, together, all of us, in love and worship.

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