I hate Him, and I Pray God Slay Him!

  What do you think about the “other” side?  Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). The Psalmist writes:“Do I not hate. . . I hate them with a perfect hatred” (Psalm 139:21-22).

Though this Psalm is not considered one of the Psalms of malediction, or curse, or imprecation, it expresses a strong sentiment regarding hatred, which reflects some of the responses in a society that has just watched a contentious election. How should the believer now pray in response to what he or she might consider an “evil” outcome in the election, or against the “evil” people who sought to stymie the good outcome of the election? Shall the believer pray, “let an accuser [Hb. Satan] stand at his right hand. . . let his prayer be accounted as sin. . . Let his children be fatherless. . . Let curses come upon him” (Psalm 109:6, 7, 8, 9, 17)?

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The Believer’s Hope and Political Elections

Anti-Christian sentiments swayed the electorate in a close fought race. This week, the province of Alberta held a significant election. The end result was disappointing. It was not disappointing to see who won (a Centre leaning progressive conservative party), but rather how they won.

The PC party won on a surge of anti- christian bigotry. Going into the final week, a rival more right leaning conservative party was polled in the lead. But three issues began to dog them:

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Blogs that everyone should read and heed

Not everything on the internet is worth reading. This won’t surprise any of you who spend time surfing the “world wide web”. Then of course their is the “fun” stuff, that if you have nothing better to do, you might as well enjoy. But there are also the musings of some of the most influential and articulate leaders in the evangelical world, as well as the lesser known, but equally perceptive writings of biblically faithful writers. With the rapid pace of news and events in modern society, it is invaluable to have “go-to” sources that provide thoughtful Christian answers. So grab your laptop or ipad, get a comfy seat and fill up on the good stuff below.

Halloween and Christian Ethics

This week many are thinking about halloween. How should a Christian respond to this holiday? Should a believer go for a boycott? Is participation a good thing? Perhaps pursuing alternatives, such as “harvest festivals” or “reformation day” celebrations are best? Grace to You has a very astute article “Christians and Halloween“. 

Church Planting and Preaching

Church Planting is really in vogue. As a Church planter, I am constantly scanning the latest helpful articles, to see if I can learn something new, or to be warned about the pitfalls others have discovered in this odyssey. There are so many competing strategies, needs and priorities for a Church planter. Sometimes you just need a solid dose of common sense, to sort through all the noise and get back to the core of your mission. The Cripplegate has a brilliant article this week: “Church Planting and Pulpit Priority“.

Playing like God

How can you image God at work, leisure and play? In the Bible, we have clear instruction on how we can do this. No longer do you have to have feel and think fuzzily on how to spend your time. God cares about how you work, have leisure and  play, and he gives us Guidelines to do all three. The Biblical information comes primarily through Genesis 1–2, however brief explorations into other biblical literature also produce some benefit.

Imaging God’s Work

God created the world in six days, declaring it “very good” (Gen 1:31). Then he rested on the Seventh day (Gen 2:1–3). That God worked and apparently enjoyed his work (he said it was very good!) gives people a model to understand work.

While many view work as a means to live, or as means to pay for entertainment, or as a means to live a certain kind of lifestyle, God views work as something natural, normal and human. Working with joy, with creativity, and with purpose emulates God. Thus, work proclaims God’s glory, name and fame, giving dignity and purpose to work.

While Capitalism says that work is a commodity to be bartered with and sold, God says work in itself is a dignified and honorable profession that he authorized. While Socialism says that work belongs to the community, God says he owns work, not the community. The highest good is not wealth or social utopia but God’s glory spanning the world.

In short, neither a boss, money or community owns a person’s work. God owns it and he gives a special dignity to it, as a working God. Humanity must realize this and must do all things to the glory of God. Depreciating work at its worst is dishonoring God whose glory is in work.

Imaging God’s Leisure

God rested on the seventh day and enjoyed his creation (Gen 2:1–3). Leisure does not require production but an appreciation of production. The workaholic understands this little. He works until he drops, steam rolling over anyone in his path. Success and prestige are what make work worthwhile and leisure does not fit into this scheme. The entire Western world seems enamored by the glamour and glory of success.

Leisure makes one feel guilty, therefore. Even in leisure, workaholics think about work. Or, they become so exhausted because of work that leisure becomes a mindless shut down, watching television passively without energy to do anything else. Work becomes an idol, a need and workaholics have no energy or time for anything else, much less leisure.

But God rested. He enjoyed his work. Later Israel would be commanded to rest on the Sabbath day because God did so when he created (cf. Ex 20:8–11). In fact, because of humanity’s tendency to an attitude of acquisition, God made his people rest in various festivals and worship events. Leisure was built into the fabric of Israel’s life. So in creation, God set a template whereby man should emulate his leisure.

Significantly, however, leisure does not involve passivity. Throughout Scripture, leisure  in religious events or enjoying one’s production is to be done with vigor. True leisure lends to worship of God, introspection, cultivation of abilities or increase of knowledge that a typical day of work will not allow, and fellowship with others. Leisure, thus, is as important as work to making a complete a person. Without leisure one cannot properly image God.

Reclaiming leisure as a time of personal enrichment, relationship building, enjoyment of God’s creation or any such activity is necessary to image God. Accepting that six out of seven days God worked, one must realize that was to set up the template of work and rest in creation. Work originally was not toilsome but enjoyable and probably had the character of leisure and play intertwined throughout until the fall happened.

Leisure must be reclaimed to image God properly on earth and fulfill the mission to spread God’s glory. This is a moral issue.  God cares about how people spend our time in leisure.

Imaging God’s Play

Leland Ryken best explains how God “plays.” He is quoted at length here:

At the heart of God’s creation is something extravagant and gratuitous, going beyond what is strictly needed for survival. Someone has commented that the lilies of that Jesus told us to contemplate ‘are lazy lilies, occupying space amid the common field grasses for no reason other than that it pleases God. Can we appreciate God’s creative prodigality?’ God made provision for the quality of human life, simply its survival. He is the God who came that people “may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). At its best, leisure is part of the human quest for the abundant life.[1]

It was this beautiful creation that God playfully made. Consider the Jerusalem Bible translation of Proverbs 8:30–31:

I was by his side, a master craftsman,

delighting him day after day,

ever at play in his presence,

at play everywhere in his world,

delighting to be with the sons of men

This remarkable Proverb concerning creation illustrates something of the playfulness of God. With regard to the sea, Psalm 104:26 says, “There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.” In these passages (others exist), God added an element of play into the created order.

Thus, humanity should not to shy away from joviality and playfulness in life. Since God is this way, monotone humdrummers do not image God properly. Of course, all of this must be measured by the effects of the fall of man, the subsequent revelation of Jesus, and redeemed humanity’s ability to image God in this life.

***Later this week, we will look at how the fall of mankind affected the way we work, take leisure and play. We will also see how Jesus did these things. Until then!

            [1] Ryken, 179.