9–15 July 2017.
Every day it seems like tabloid newspapers are declaring the end of the world. Every day there’s some new enemy and some new reason for people to live in fear. One day it’s evil immigrants and foreigners taking over the country, another day it’s gay people destroying society, and the next it’s lazy and disobedient youth ruining the nation. On the radio, on Facebook, and even in church magazines, every day we see people selling fear and telling people that this world is going to hell. So what’s their advice? Disconnect yourself from the world, turn your back on it, and just give up on it all. It’s no wonder then that we see so many people who do nothing but complain about the world every day.
Promoting fear is nothing new. In Psalm 11:1–3 the writer quotes people who were saying the very same things: “Society is full of evil people always attacking the good; the foundations of law and order are collapsing; and the world is full of chaos!” They sound just like our news headlines today! And in the ancient world, people gave the same advice: be afraid, give up on the world, and run away. Or as the writer quotes them saying in verse 1: “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!”
But the psalm’s writer isn’t fooled. He knows this type of fear-mongering, this deliberate promotion of fear and panic, is incredibly wrong – especially for us believers. That’s because when we talk this way, the message we give people is that God is incompetent, weak, and has lost control of the world. We act like God is an incompetent manager who can’t control his company and is letting everything go to ruin. Is that our Christian message? Of course not!
Yes, human beings do evil things, and yes we have the power to cause all kinds of trouble. But instead of using that as a reason to panic, or to give up on the world and on God, the psalm writer encourages us instead to “trust in the Lord” (v. 1). The Lord is still in his holy temple, the Lord is still ruling in glory from his heavenly throne (v. 4), so enough of this mindless panic and complaining. The Lord still loves justice, and he will set all things right (vv. 5–7). As believers, what God calls us to do in this world is not to panic or abandon the world but to co-operate with God in bringing his kingdom and reign into this world today.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis