Just got back from a weekend with our elders and deacons. It was a great retreat. We looked at this psalm this morning. I put together some questions that I thought might be relevant for what is happening in the world around us. Here they are, feel free to follow the study if you would like:
1. Read Psalm 21
2. Who would the king be in our current age and in our current climate? The obvious answer a day away from the inauguration is that the king for our country right now would be Donald Trump.
3. How does Romans 13:1-7 work together with this verse? We are called, as vs. 7 states, to do good in respect to the government which rules over us. We pointed out that this would be the case both for the administration before this one and the current administration. We figured that would cover every person in the room. No matter who is in charge we are called to do good.
4. How does Micah 6:8 work together with this verse? The question we can extract from the question above is: “What is the good that we are called to do?” Micah in vs.8 says the following: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” There are three things which we could define as good and which we ought to do in respect to the government which is over us – 1) do justice, 2) love kindness, 3) walk humbly with our God. This would have been a well understood definition in Paul’s day of what “doing good” entailed.
5. In what ways can we encourage unity within the body within a divided country? We reflected upon the fact that First Presbyterian in this time and in this place seems pretty united and there is a momentum which is taking us forward. A question was raised, does lack of conflict mean that we are united? An answer was given, no, but the ability even in the midst of our differences to focus on kingdom work and not our differences allows me to say that there just might be unity. We felt that our unity could potentially be a strong witness for our community in as far as how do people who aren’t on the same page politically still be able to do something productive and even life giving.
6. Is this a conversation that should take place within a church or is it simply too caustic to even touch? There was a common consensus that topics of political discord could be raised in the church but so much care had to be given as to how they are raised. An example that we used is the large number of refugees who are coming into Lancaster County through Church World Service. On paper this would be a tremendously controversial topic. But in the church we fully recognize that it would fall under Micah’s understanding of doing good. I was actually surprised that we seemed to be able to come to a consensus on that. We can address our responsibilities to other people that we may have if we can do it in an apolitical way.
7. How did Jesus address these issues? (Look at Matthew 22:15-22, John 18:33-38) In a like manner an answer was given that Jesus seemed to be, on paper at least, apolitical and did not speak against the status quo forcefully, in these Scriptures at least. Should we pay taxes? Sure, go ahead, give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s. Not a strongly worded political statement which would shake up the empire. Are you a king? Sure, if you want to call me a king you can, but I’m not calling myself a king and my kingdom isn’t of this world anyway. Again, a potentially apolitical statement which addressed a very politically charged topic.
All of this from Psalm 21 which speaks very directly to the king and a prayer of blessing and protection on the king and on the nation. I pray we can ask the same for our “king” even as we seek to ensure that the good which Scripture requires us to do, gets done.