Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Completeness of That Blessedness

Bread Winners by Thomas Blinks (1905)
Likewise, the Lord will grant prosperity: and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before him; and set her steps in the way.
Ps 85:12-13
A literal interpretation of Psalm 85:12 seems a bit shallow—a precursor to today's name-it-claim-it theology which states that if we're good enough or have enough faith, we'll be blessed materially. Wouldn't a strictly spiritual interpretation be better (and more realistic)? Calvin takes both into consideration, and comes down on the side of the former. But he does so (whether intentionally or unintentionally, I don't know) in such a way as to make me think:
"Some take this verse allegorically, and interpret it as the increase of spiritual blessings; but this does not agree with the particle גַּם, rendered likewise, by which the prophet, in my opinion, intends to express the completeness of that blessedness of which he had spoken."

This reminds me that when I overspiritualize the gospel, I am denying some of its truth. The good news is truly not just good news for our souls, but also for our bodies—indeed the Hebrew religion (i.e. the religion of Jesus himself) refused to separate the two. Therefore the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached about was about wholeness (or, as Calvin put it, "the completeness of that blessedness"). In taking this into consideration of my reading of Psalm 85, I am better able to embrace not only the promise of God's economy, but my place in it. If God promises a whole people wholeness, then how can I hoard the blessings that come to me? Are they not intended for the wholeness of all? If only I am made whole, then I am by definition still incomplete, for God did not create me in God's Image to be alone: According to the Christian faith, even the Oneness of God is known in Trinity.
 
May I see the fulfillment of your promise of prosperity, Lord—but not because it's granted to me, but because it's granted to your people. Thank you that our land regularly yields its increase; may I follow you on the path of righteousness that I may be among those who know your wholeness; in the Name of the One who taught me not to pray without asking for the coming of your kingdom...