God is looking for a few good people

2 Jan

Have I told you lately how much I love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the scripture.  Psalm 53 is awesome.  I hope it gets creative brain going and thinking about who we are as people on the planet and as God’s people.  The first verses express wonderfully the reality that there are always those who will say that God is dead.

1-2 Bilious and bloated, they gas,
“God is gone.”
It’s poison gas—
they foul themselves, they poison
Rivers and skies;
thistles are their cash crop.
God sticks his head out of heaven.
He looks around.
He’s looking for someone not stupid—
one man, even, God-expectant,
just one God-ready woman.

I love the line that says God is looking for someone who is not stupid.  God is looking for people who are activity looking for the presence of God.  Of course, God is still looking for those people.

The next verses are a little depressing.  It says that God cannot find faithful people.  Even though I don’t think that is true, I do like the image of verse 3 – “useless, unshepherded sheep, taking turns pretending to be Shepherd.”  Sometimes I feel like this is a great description of the church.  There are faith community who do not want to do the hard work of spiritual disciplines which helps us to live our obedience to God.  But only want to drop in and have a ‘meaningful’ experience for an hour on Sunday morning.

He comes up empty. A string
of zeros. Useless, unshepherded
Sheep, taking turns pretending
to be Shepherd.
The ninety and nine
follow the one.

The psalmist has harsh words for the people pretending to be the Shepherd.  The line, “treating people like a fast-food meal over which they are too busy to pray.” is incredible.  I think it will bounce around in my brain for days to come.

Don’t they know anything,
all these impostors?
Don’t they know
they can’t get away with this,
Treating people like a fast-food meal
over which they’re too busy to pray?

The ending of the psalm, as always, expresses the triumph of God over the impostors.  I think the punishment of the impostors is that they will have to live the life that they have created – “a nightmare they can’t wake up from.”

Night is coming for them, and nightmare—
a nightmare they’ll never wake up from.
God will make hash of these squatters,
send them packing for good.

The hope that it offered by the psalmist is the same refrain that comes from all the prophets.  Those who “turn-around” will find joy.  It is the turning around, the turning back to the way of God that brings life.  How often do we think that we a plunking OK and there is really no reason to change our lives.  Are we willing to settle for an OK? Are we willing settle for being our own inadequate shepherd, rather than following the real Shepherd?

Is there anyone around to save Israel?
God turns life around.
Turned-around Jacob skips rope,
turned-around Israel sings laughter.

My prayer is that you will be one of the ones turning around and find yourself skipping rope and singing with laughter.


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