love and justice :: fear and love

August 19, 2009

 Gods Eyes Stripe

David is the MAN.  Aside from Jesus, of course (which sounds so ridiculous, but it must be said), David from the Old Testament is my hero. 

I get my blog title from his Psalm 27, verse 4… “One thing I ask of the Lord…”  Basically, “God I just want to be with You and look at You and marvel in awe of You and worship You all the time – forever!  That’s my one thing!”  Me, too!  And God said David was “a man after God’s own heart.”  Me, too!  (Well… OK.  I wish that were actually true.  Working on it…)

The point is, David and God were tight.  So when David speaks, it’s an E.F. Hutton moment for me.

“I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise…” (David’s Psalm 101:1)

Most important word in that verse:  AND.  AND is the key.  AND is not negotiable.  Because God is both JUST -AND- MERCIFUL.  He is RIGHTEOUS -AND- LOVING.  He is HOLY -AND- wants a relationship with… ME?  What?!

[on my face again… fear and love…]

I’ve noticed a polarity problem in many churches, and I think it works AGAINST the effective spread of the Gospel.  When either the LOVE or JUSTICE side of God’s character is exalted alone, an incomplete picture of God is painted.  And you know what?  People can smell it.  Examples:

I know a pastor.  He is widely regarded as a fantastic communicator.  He preaches a fire and brimstone message, full of anger at sin and the sinful.  He proclaims God’s righteous fury at the tattooed, pierced, the lukewarm, and the political left.  His God is a God of justice, but not of love.

I remember a few years ago – my heart breaking – as I sat in church next to a girl with a nose ring and tattooed forearm.  She hadn’t been to church in years.  This Pastor tore into her and her kind as if speaking with the authority and righteous indignation of the Lord Himself.  You know what?  She didn’t come back.  She needed to hear about God’s love that day.

On the other hand, a God who is only love and acceptance and cuddly approachability incarnate is a weak God.  The God of wishes.  The God of warm feelings.  Oprah’s God, inside us all.  That’s not the God of the Bible, who sits high on His throne.  All powerful, unapproachable Light.  Holy, righteous, other-than-us, thunder and zeal.  Strength.  Purity.  Perfect.

Believers, make no mistake.  God is righteous.  We are HOPELESS if not for the Cross of Jesus.  God has a backbone, and muscle.  That’s what makes grace so amazing.

So when I lead worship at Living Hope Church (or with my family, or with you over coffee…) I want to reflect David’s heart.  “I will sing of Your LOVE -AND- JUSTICE, God.  Help me reflect an accurate picture of You.”

Do you see why this is VITAL to honest worship?  An angry God inspires judgement, self-righteousness, and fear.  A fluffy God inspires tolerance of sin and comfortable, lukewarm hearts.

There is fear and comfort and passion and awe and safety and danger in my worship of the God of David.  He inspires all that and more.  [on my face again… fear and love…]

Is the God you imagine – the God you know – a God of both JUSTICE and LOVE?  If not, it may be time to reexamine your God-thoughts.  What do you think?

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“love and justice :: fear and love” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

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  1. Believers, make no mistake. God is righteous. We are HOPELESS if not for the Cross of Jesus. God has a backbone, and muscle. That’s what makes grace so amazing.
    Exactly, and that is why we sing Amazing Grace to my baby boy each night before we put him to bed. We do not want him to forget what an amazing grace we have been given. It’s just a chance to leave a small impression on the little guy of this grace that will one day good Lord willing fill the gap that is a large hole in his life. Press on good and faithful servants! Press On!

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