Rage. Is that a way to describe, at least in part, what my friend calls our “cultural moment”?
Tumult. Commotion. Anger. In an uproar. How well does that describe the lack of civility, the willingness to confront, and the quickness to cancel which we see so prevalent in our public squares and in our political arenas. Rage.
Hovering over Psalm 2 this morning and that’s what characterizes a people who have rejected the LORD and His Anointed.
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us burst Their bonds apart and cast away Their cords from us.”
(Psalm 2:1-3 ESV)
Those who refuse and rebel against the Creator’s rightful rule will rage. It’s the fruit of self-determined freedom from any sort of transcendent moral reality. In a way, you gotta expect if from an increasingly secular society.
But what of those who are not in open rebellion but profess to bow before the Sovereign rule of God and assent to the lordship of His Christ? How have so many who claim the church as their own, and bear the banner of “the redeemed,” become so caught up in the ways of a world in rebellion. Why so such anger, tumult, and uproar there as well? Why the vitriol from those who confess victory in Jesus?
Could it be because they too, in a sense, have sought to burst apart the bonds of the way of the kingdom of heaven — the way of the cross? So caught up in their desire to achieve the ends of righteousness they cast away the cords of the means of righteousness?
For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
(Romans 1:17 ESV)
Faith, not fighting, that’s the power of the gospel. Trusting in God’s Sovereign rule, submitting to God’s Sovereign way, even as we seek to be salt and light in an age of tumult and rage.
Could it be that we “stand up” for God because we don’t believe He is standing up for Himself? That we wage war as the world around us because we fail to see how we’ve been distracted from a battle that really isn’t against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).
And so, we take up the sword of Twitter, or some other media fueled platform, with sarcasm, cynicism, and raging rhetoric even as we claim to be those who have been sent as ambassadors of Christ with the ministry of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:18-20a). Leaving in our closets at home the gospel of peace, the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God), and the shield of faith (Eph. 6:15-18).
Faith which allows us to embrace the seeming restrictive bonds of the way of a blessed peacemaker (Matt. 5:9). Faith which quiets the soul even as it feels confined by waiting on God who, in His patient desire that all should come to a saving knowledge of His grace (2Pet. 3:9), tarries before bringing judgment and establishing His righteous rule.
But for those who can embrace the LORD’s bonds of peace, who can submit to His Annointed’s cords of the cross, the songwriter contends there is the promise of a blessing.
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. (Psalm 2:12b ESV)
One man’s bonds, another man’s refuge. For one a raging battle, for the other a faith-fueled, spirit-calming blessing.
O’ that the church would let the nations rage and that we would engage as those whose confidence and hope are in the LORD and His Anointed.
Because of the abundant grace which we have known through Calvary.
All for the glory of the Christ who, even now, actively reigns over the kingdoms of heaven and earth.