Love from the center

But God will rise up

Psalm 12:5-8 “I will rise up,” says the Lord, “and will give help to every one who longs for it.” The words of the Lord are pure words. … Preserve us, O Lord, and save us … The ungodly walk on every side when wickedness is exalted among the children of men.

I try to post on Mondays as well as Thursdays, but over Labor Day I was caught up in enjoying these two scallywags so their parents could enjoy a brief getaway. The photo was taken last week when our son Dan visited from DC.

Reconnecting to life outside the delightful Caleb and Talita bubble, I read the Psalms scheduled for Monday in the lectionary. I’ve read the Psalms many times, but I didn’t remember Psalm 12:8 at all. Doesn’t it seem like it was written like, maybe yesterday, not three thousand years ago?

But how do we avoid “exalting wickedness” when it’s already so widespread, including in the halls of power? The starting place is my own heart. Will I let the prevailing sins of our culture contaminate me? How much have I already done so?

While I mulled over Psalm 12, I ran across the following words by Michael Gerson, Director of Speechwriting for President George W. Bush and like me, a graduate of Wheaton College:

Jesus rejected the role of a political messiah. In the present age, He insisted, the Kingdom of God would not be the product of Jewish nationalism. It would not arrive through militancy and violence, tactics that would contribute only to a cycle of suffering. Instead, God’s kingdom would grow silently, soul by soul, “among you” and “within you,” across every barrier of nation or race — in acts of justice, peacemaking, love, inclusion, meekness, humility and gentleness.

 Christians seeking social influence should do so not by joining interest groups that fight for their narrow rights — and certainly not those animated by hatred, fear, phobias, vengeance or violence. Rather, they should seek to be ambassadors of a kingdom of hope, mercy, justice and grace. This is a high calling — and a test that most of us (myself included) are always finding new ways to fail. But it is the revolutionary ideal set by Jesus of Nazareth, who still speaks across the sea of years.

I long to be faithful to this high calling. I want Jesus to so own my heart that I can be an ambassador of a “kingdom of hope, mercy, justice, and grace.”

As I wrote this, I heard my husband reading the following out loud on a Zoom call. Try it yourself! 

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.

Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.

Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.

Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.

Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.

Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.

Get along with each other.”

(Romans 12:9-16, The Message)

Lord, we long to see you rise up and usher in your kingdom of love and justice and truth. Please help us to trust you more than we fear people and events. Give us confidence and peace in the center of ourselves because we know you. Help us to live as Jesus taught us and modeled for us, never compromising our integrity or supporting those who do so. Be, truly, Lord of our hearts.

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