1 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
2 for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
6 Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
As human beings we are constantly preoccupied with our tribes. Because we are so driven to belong and feel connected, there is a huge temptation to define ourselves by those we exclude.
The church is no different. From very early days there was continuous and strenuous argument around the issue of “who is in and who is out?” In Bible times the questions were ‘ Did you have to be circumcised? Keep the Jewish laws?’
In our times the questions are: ‘are you only a Christian if you stick strictly to a particular moral code? Is baptism the way in? (But what if you were baptised as a baby?) Do you have to have a conversion story? An experience of the Holy Spirit? (And how might we define those two events?)
Many, many questions, I could go on.
Last week I was reading Psalm 24. Verse 1: pretty bluntly states that everyone is God’s (whether they know it or not, interesting!) Then verse 3 seems to ask the very question that I’m raising and verse 4 suggests that those given access to God’s presence have a certain quality of character. But where has this character come from? Is it something that they have earned/worked on for themselves? The passage doesn’t address the issue of how we become the kind of person described in verse 4, it only says that it is necessary for us to be this kind of person in order to be near God. (For what it’s worth, I think that transformation is God’s work within us the closer we come or the longer we hang out with him)
But I wonder if it might not be better for us as Christians if we defined by what we receive rather than what we achieve?
God invites us to receive blessing. v5
And might it also be more helpful if we defined ourselves by the direction we are going in rather than any sense of having ‘arrived’ at a destination – we seek God. v6
This is not a once for all activity. It is a continuous willingness to open ourselves up to the possibility of seeing God present in every part of our world and our story.
(If I could I would insert the word ‘think’ in the above image: ‘Just because you ‘think’ you’ve found God….’ there is always more to discover).