Your promise gives me life: Monster-Psalm Meditation #7

Psalm 119:49-56
Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my distress,
that your promise gives me life.
The arrogant utterly deride me,
but I do not turn away from your law.
When I think of your ordinances from of old,
I take comfort, O Lord.
Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
those who forsake your law.
Your statutes have been my songs
wherever I make my home.
I remember your name in the night, O Lord,
and keep your law.
This blessing has fallen to me,
for I have kept your precepts.

I think this psalm describes an attitude I probably share with Christians who I vehemently disagree with. I see my theological adversaries as “arrogant” Pharisees who “deride” Christians like me. They fill me with “hot indignation” and I can point to all the Biblical laws they “forsake.” I tell myself that I’m the one who has “kept God’s precepts.” But I suspect that those I’m opposed to would see me as the arrogant one who has forsaken God’s law (if they even knew who I was because most of the people I disagree with are famous and I’m a nobody).

I’m still stuck on Dave Ramsey’s glorification of self-interest as “Biblical teaching.” I’m still recovering from the Great Recovery video that has left me hot with indignation. To me, there’s something truly sinister and Orwellian about the way Ramsey weaves Tea Party propaganda into promotional speeches for what could otherwise be a non-political, completely benevolent initiative that need not fawn over capitalist ideology. Why not just get churches fired up about taking care of the poor if the government stops doing it? Why does Ramsey need to make it so explicitly clear that he thinks selfishness is “Biblical”?

It’s life-draining to dwell on the thought that the bad guys are winning the battle for the soul of American Christianity. This despair honestly keeps me awake at night. I’m not sure who the bad guys are exactly. But I’m pretty sure that they’re winning. I guess I’m probably one of the bad guys too, at least some of the time. Paul writes that we’re all God’s enemies whom He loves anyway.

But what gives me life is God’s promise. I think of that verse from “Amazing Grace”: “The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.” My hope is not derived in how right or wrong I am but in the word of the One whom I can trust, who also answers the prayers of people whose theology I can’t stand. Somehow God will reconcile an arrogant anarchist like me with arrogant capitalists like Dave Ramsey (even though I doubt they would ever have any reason to notice me). I have to trust that God will work through people in spite of their messed up views (people such as me).

I just want for God’s promise to be what we live for and the only thing we are loyal to. Ideology of whatever stripe is the enemy of faith because it means believing in a finite, man-made set of ideas rather than an infinite Creator whom we cannot put in a box. So whether you find yourself more riled up by liberals or fundamentalists, remember that your hot indignation is not your salvation; it’s God’s promise that gives you life.

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