An Overlook (Gens du monde part 2)

“Surely Thou didst set them in slippery places: Thou castedst them down into destruction. How are thy brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when Thou awakest, Thou shalt despise their image.” (Psalm 73:18-20)

Asaph, in the above passage, is complaining of a similar thing as was David in the seventeenth Psalm. There are those, as he refers to in verse 12 as “the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” Nothing wrong with having lots of money for its own sake. Paul writes to Timothy and puts his finger on “them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded.” (1 Timothy 6:17) But, as my dad taught me growing up, “money is a tool”. It’s so easy, especially once you’ve tasted want and lack (supposedly) to see a little bit more money as, not just a blessing, but a mirage without knowing it. And when Asaph says “Thou shalt despise their image”, it means those who stood out and boasted and bragged about substance that wasn’t really, and are no better than a dream that got your hopes up only to dash them upon waking. When all is said and done, God sees right through (and loves) everyone.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

That’s stark. But that has to be the core of your attitude toward this world. Jesus says “he that hateth his life”. It’s not talking about self-loathing and inwardly-directed derision. It’s referring to the fact that our old life will grow up like a weed and choke out the life of God in us, if left unchecked. In Paul’s above exhortation to Timothy, he closes out the thought with “the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”. If we lose sight of this side of God’s face, we will indeed view him as a monster (remember the Likeness Monster? Hilarious.). Paul says in Acts (17:25) that God “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.”

Here’s a point I want to get across, God is not two-faced. Unlike Janus of the Roman pantheon, God is love. And He’s always looking at you. One of the problems I have with a judgment-based outlook and worldview is that it tends to be blind to the devil and his machinations in the world. Yes, God is love and the punishment for choosing to live in sin after accepting Christ is severe. Don’t wanna touch it nor even look at it. But if you rewind back to your birth in Christ, to where God worked all the surroundings and everyone involved (believer and non) in your favor–leaving the ninety and nine, so to speak–just to retrieve you from the jaws of hell, you’ll glimpse His tenderness and lovingkindness toward you. This is bedrock. And this, I fear, is what gets layered upon with all the stuff of the world when we let it affect us and shape us beyond what God would have it do, if that makes sense. And what’s the remedy? If you find yourself caught up in a way of living that isn’t outwardly sinful but that neglects the God who invited you in, tell Him. Let Him know that you want “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3) and know that it doesn’t begin with your outward appearance or any of that. It’s an inward tenderness in return that sees life as a gift and all its accoutrements, too.

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” (1 John 17:21)

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A Likeness (Gens du Monde part 1)

Gens du monde is French and it literally translates to “men of the world”. It means, however, simply those who are at the apex of society. The movers and shakers and doers. Those who stand out in their field and call the shots.

“From men which are Thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly Thou fillest with Thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:14-15)

Surely you’ve heard of the Loch Ness monster? You’ve met him? Amazing. But we’re talking about the likeness monster. Actually, that’s just a really bad pun. I suppose I should start at the beginning. David prays to God in the first verse: “Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.” In other words, his heart is resonant with the words he speaks. I find it takes time to reach that state. To where he can pray in verse two: “Let my sentence come forth from Thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal.” He goes on to outline the ways God had tested Him (“Thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing…”) Skip ahead a few verse to number seven and this is the point. David is talking about those who, while well-meaning (?), did not have his best interests at heart–to put it politely:

“Shew Thy marvellous lovingkindness, O Thou that savest by Thy right hand them which put their trust in Thee from those that rise up against them.” (17:7)

Those that rise up against them

And yet, now that Jesus has come and instated this paradigm of forgiveness and of “turning the other cheek”, how do we deal with those who “rise up against us”? Because while it may not happen in the life-threatening, physically violent ways David dealt with, there are those who are opposed, however subtly, to our peace of mind and well being and joy in the Lord. Really, the only way God would have you “deal” with them is by forgiveness. There is nothing to be gained in vengeful retaliation. I have learned that Jesus loves everyone and even though you may view them as detrimental to your emotional and mental state, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t some part of them that can rub off on you, a beneficial quality from which you can learn. Even as you bless them with whatever it is God intimates to your heart. This is one of the ways to make friends in this world. I admit that I may be playing fast and loose with the King James Translation here. It’s the version I use primarily and while it may be antiquated by today’s standards, I feel it holds a deeper current of understanding for those who would be inclined (or led) to stick with it and align their thinking with its cadence and flow and meaning. Then again, I could be wrong. But I know God uses everyone at some time or another. Do they know it while it’s happening? Do I? God knows. As He is the Creator, He has that prerogative. To use people.

“And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31)

And yet what do we make of this? Where does it stop? If we are “in this world, but not of it”, what does it look like when once we’ve crossed over the dividing line of the first part of the above verse? “Us[ing]” this world and “not abusing” it? God knows.