But What Do I Know?

This entry was posted by on Thursday, 16 February, 2006 at

Three incidents:

1) A fellow named D. James Kennedy has a radio show on the Christian station that I listen to occasionally. The station will also play 90 second “Kennedy Commentary” segments in between other shows. One of these a couple of weeks ago began with the announcer asking, “Why did Jesus preach the sermon on the mount?” I fully expected Dr. Kennedy to say something to the effect that the sermon was to expose the sins of the world, to convict people, show us all the need for a savior, etc, etc. He basically said that this was the standard by which we will all be judged and we will one day be called to give an account of whether or not we lived by it. I was left thinking, “AND…?” Ah, but there was more: apparently we can share this fact with our unbelieving friends! You sir, clearly do not have any unbelieving friends.

2) I do not recall now exactly how I got to thinking of it, perhaps it was again something on the radio, but I was thinking of the story of the rich young man who comes to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus tells him that he must follow all the commandments. When the man claims that he has followed them his whole life, Jesus responds, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Then we are told that the man went away sad, because he was very rich, and Jesus went on to tell his disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven.”
On the surface, it seems obvious that Jesus is against wealth. I would further suggest that when the Lord and Creator of the Universe decided to come to earth in human form and chose to be born in a bleedin’ stable, in a feeding trough, then this is clearly not a guy who has a lot of interest in wealth and worldly comfort.
But as we all know, Christian = Republican = pro-wealth, so clearly there must be another explanation. I have heard several commentaries stating that it was not specifically that he was rich that was the problem, it was simply that his wealth was more important to him than following Christ. I do agree with that interpretation as far as it goes, but on this particular day, I realized that one can go deeper still. For around this time in the Bible, Jesus is walking around pointing to seemingly random people and saying, “Follow me.” But here was a guy who wanted to follow Jesus but could not. The difference I see is that while other people were being called upon, this guy was trying to come to Jesus on his own. It does not matter that he had followed all of the commandments (if indeed he had) nor that he was rich. The point is that no matter what you do, there will always be something more between you and God. “Then who can be saved?” asked the disciples. Jesus replied, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

3)In church last Sunday, the orchestra played an instrumental version of As the Deer Panteth for the Water, while the main screen displayed something like:
Psalm 42:
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Curious, I turned to Psalm 42 in my Bible. All I can say is that I feel that they SERIOUSLY cheapened that Psalm by only quoting the first two verses. My church does not deserve the blame for this however. Not being raised in an environment where I had much exposure to traditional Hymns, I had to look up the lyrics to that song when I got home. I think that it was really the author of this song, Martin Nystrom, who took all of the punch out of the original Psalm.
We can not really blame him either though, because this is a problem that runs throughout both worship and popular Christian music. This unabashed praise, as if nothing bad has ever happened to you; I can not speak for anyone else, but that kind of thing really turns me off. The thing is, I simply do not believe it. I do not believe that you have never had any doubts and struggles with God, and if you try to suggest otherwise, or pretend that none of that matters, then I ultimately just feel that you are being deceitful, and I reject that as a form of worship.
So, dear readers, let’s have Psalm 42 in its entirety, and I ask you, is this honoring to God? Would you dare to sing this in church?
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.
I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

So, am I wrong? Who am I anyway? It seems the very height of arrogance to even suggest that I might have a better understanding of the Bible than people who have been studying it longer than I have even been alive.

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