The God of grace and goodness . . . and power

May 14, 2020

Scripture Readings

One of the imperatives of the Christian life is a conviction about the God whom we worship and serve. On the one hand, we cannot live in peace, unless we know and believe that, in the words of the Psalmist, “The Lord is good . . . his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 100:5).” And thus, when we gather for worship, we give thanks for this very goodness; we recognize that God is benevolent, kind and merciful. We delight in this goodness.

But it is equally vital that we appreciate that God is all-powerful – not merely good, but able to deliver on that goodness. We rest in this; we celebrate the God who has created all things. He is also redeeming all things with a confidence that nothing will thwart the purposes of God for this world.

In times of uncertainty – whether pandemics, wars, sickness or loss – our confidence might waver. Christian worship brings us back to this confidence in the capacity and goodness of God as an article and foundation of our Christian faith. And we come back to it repeatedly in our confession of faith, our songs of praise and our prayers. 

The book of the Judges has two deeply sobering chapters – Judges 18 and 19, which speak of greed, idolatry and murder. Nothing is encouraging in what we read here of a time where, it is said, “There was no king in Israel” (Judges 18:1; 19:1). And yet, we know the big picture: that for all the foolishness we read about, there is truth in the line from priest that we are all “under the eye of the Lord” (Judges 18:6).

The Gospel text reminds us that Jesus has been sent by the Father and has ascended back to the Father. Thus, in the words of Apostle, we set our minds not on the circumstances around us, but “on things above” with Christ, who is seated at the right hand of Father (Colossians 3:2). 

And this brings us to Psalm 60 with the reverberating affirmation that God has made a promise, and God will deliver. This Psalm is quoted in a later Psalm – Psalm 108 – which opens with the exquisite line, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast” (Psalm 108:1). What seems to have happened is that a later people and poet – Psalm 108 – took the words of an earlier time – Psalm 60 – and made those promises their own. 

Similarly, when we live in a time when chaos seems to reign, we can set our minds on Christ, who is seated at the right hand of the Father. We can trust in the promises of God and live in this grace – hearts that are steadfast: not consumed with worry, fretfulness or anxiety, but rather a deep confidence that God is good and his promises are sure.

 

Gordon T. Smith

President, Ambrose University (and a former intern at Foothills!)