Psalm 15 helps us in understanding the things God cares about. As new covenant Christians (I explain here how this relates to the old covenant under which the Psalms were written), we know it’s by the grace of Jesus that we may dwell in God’s sacred tent or live on his holy mountain (Romans 3:23-24). With that in mind, we can now look Psalm 15 as a clear list of things God cares about. I don’t think we spend enough time in modern Christianity looking at the things that are on God’s heart. In any love relationship, you want to know what is on the other person’s heart, and out of love, you want to be about those things as well. This is particularly true with God, who is not only our spouse, but is also our Father and Lord and King. So let’s take a look at this short list in Psalm 15 of some of the things God cares about:
One of the most healthy spiritual disciplines for me is to regularly sit before a holy God during my prayer time. I use Exodus 9:9-25 and visualize myself sitting on the holy mountain as one of those original Israelites. I try to feel the emotion that comes with trying to comprehend the vast chasm between God’s holiness and my sinfulness. Then I turn my prayer and meditation time toward Colossians 1:22, Romans 8:15-17, and Matthew 3:16-17. The chasm of separation between me and God gets filled as the floodgates of Jesus’ love, grace, and mercy open. I can only unlock the riches of this gift if I first walk the path of understanding how much I don’t deserve it. When I begin to comprehend that I don’t deserve it, I can begin to experience how beautiful and amazing it is that I get to have it.
After wrapping up the Flip Side Book Club’s reading of Spiritual Friendship, Noah interviews author Wes Hill on the book’s subject of providing a path of love for celibate gay Christians.
Covenants aside, this psalm is still a great reminder to let God search our hearts. As followers of Jesus, we don’t want sin in our lives. Jesus is the path of life and we want that life flowing through us and in us. And we love Jesus! He clearly tells us if you love me, you’ll obey what I command (John 14:15). We don’t obey to earn his love, our obedience is the expression and result of our love for him. Sometimes it feels like there are two types of churches: those that talk about sin and God’s wrath way too much and those who don’t talk about it nearly enough. Psalm 7 is a good reminder that we need to talk about our sin and God’s wrath. We can’t fully experience the joy and depth of God’s mercy unless we realize we don’t deserve that mercy. We can only fully experience this joy if we know it is a gift, and what an elaborate gift it is!
What I love about Wesley is his ruthless honesty. He essentially spends all of chapter 5 making sure the reader understands he is not presenting a quick fix to the emotional ache that gay / SSA people feel. He wants to make sure gay / SSA Christians, as well as pastors looking for the magic bullet solution to all of this, understand that there is no magic bullet. He wants to make sure people understand if they walk down the path of kinship / covenantal friendship, they will meet pain and disappointment. This is not a good sales pitch! But it is real and it is honest. Us pastors hate this. We want a systematic theology that fixes everything. We want the right answer that grounds us in Scripture and that gives everyone warm fuzzies.
The fifth psalm brings with it some familiar themes from the preceding four: God not answering prayer, lament, crying out to God, and struggle against bloodthirsty adversaries. Whenever Scripture repeats itself, this is a flashing red light to take notice, God is trying to make sure we really understand something. It’s ironic then, how these themes have been lost or minimized in much of modern day Western Christianity. We seem to have crafted a religion around comfort and God making you feel good. Like we are selling a product and we need to convince those in the pew that it works. In order to do so, we have to hide these more uncomfortable truths and only emphasize the happy ones.