Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Psalm 1, our Psalm for this week, draws a sharp distinction between the righteous and the wicked. I had an interesting conversation about the central concept of this passage of Scripture recently. I found myself discussing the Gospel with someone of a shaply different background from mine. It was someone with whom I would not likely have much agreement in most social or political matters. This person had been rejected, sometimes fairly harshly, by some Christians who focused on their disagreements rather than on the truth of the Gospel.
Psalm 1, in its very sharp distinction, doesn’t use human terms to condemn the wicked. Rather, it points out that the wicked will eventually fall. They will not be able to survive the outcome of their decisions. It encourages righteousness as the way of peace, fruitfulness, and safety.
Here’s the striking difference between genuine Christian teaching and what has often masqueraded as a message of Christianity. At its heart, the Gospel of Christ for sinners is good news, especially for all who recognize themselves as sinners. It is only bad news for the self-righteous. The message of forgiveness, grace, and restoration is for all who believe. And that belief implies repentance. As we recognize our sin and failure, we look to Jesus as our redeemer. We look to God the Son as the one who has triumphed over sin, even our sin, and who has worked reconciliation to God.
This message of redemption is only offensive to those who are unrepentant in their sin. It never says, “You are too fallen, you stand condemned because your repentance doesn’t look like mine.” It always says, “You are fallen, like me. You can escape condemnation only through trusting Jesus.”
We pray that all people everywhere would be the righteous, the tree which is rooted by the water, stands firm, and bears wonderful fruit.
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