July 3, 2020

No, Not One

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts; there is no one who does good.
God looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
They have all fallen away, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God?
There they shall be in great terror, in terror such as has not been. For God will scatter the bones of the ungodly; they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When God restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
—Psalm 53

The story is told in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky—usually in the first person—of walking down a road with two churches situated across from each other. Inside, as the Baptists sang, Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown, the Campbellites (Disciples of Christ) across the street sang, No, Not One. This is the story I always think of when I read today's passage.

Psalm 53 isn't pleasant reading. But it's revealing. On the surface it seems to be about atheism. But what it reveals is that those who oppress God's children are those who say not aloud, but in their hearts, that there is no God. This leaves open the possibility that, should we encounter someone who oppresses, abuses, or profiteers off of God's people, it does not matter whether or not they claim to be  a Christian or any other kind of person of faith—they are in fact corrupt at their very core, for their heart cannot speak the words that their mouths utter. They present themselves as wise, claiming good will come out of their policies, but they are, in the end, nothing but fools. Moreover, they will not come to a good end—at least not according to the Bible.

Let this be a lesson to me: I may preach about God with the voice of my mouth, but the voice of my heart will, in the end, truly reveal my faith in God—a faith reflected in my treatment of those made in God's image.

Dear God, I am neither good enough nor smart enough to love my neighbor, but you can do it through me. Use my body to bring deliverance and rejoicing to someone who has suffered injustice.
—Eugene Peterson, Praying with the Psalms
I pray in Jesus' Name as he taught me: Our Father...
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Baptists: Will there be any stars in my crown?


Campbellites: No, not one.

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