Many people speak, blog, and tweet about their spiritual
practice. They may hail movement or stillness, meditations
or mantras, knowing your own heart or serving others
as practices to help us know God and to sense God’s presence.
Folks also make a variety of assertions about which beliefs
demonstrate that people are or are not close to God. We may
wonder, Who really does dwell with God? The psalmist lists the
criteria: 1) those who walk blamelessly 2) those who do what is
right 3) those who speak the truth from their heart 4) those who
do no evil to their friends.
Instead of focusing on matters of spiritual practice or belief,
the psalmist refers us to daily living to find evidence of people
who are close to God. These people allow God’s own character
to shape them. Blameless, they do what is right in speech, in
allegiances, and in business.
The description of abiding with God comforts and encourages
us as we attempt to live loving, just, full-hearted, and humble
lives. However, if we believed this passage meant that only
the blameless would sojourn with God, I suspect we would find
that thought troubling. The attributes listed in this psalm do not
represent a list of qualifications for entry, for who then would
God welcome? These verses describe the life to which we are
called and in which God enables us to walk.
The psalm begins with an image of blessing—dwelling
with God—and ends with a promise. We who are being saved,
who are living lives that lift up and reflect God’s own character,
shall not be moved. We shall dwell and abide close to God.
Even when living in the way that God desires takes us into new
patterns that challenge our own practices and beliefs, we need
not fear that we will ever be moved from God’s presence.
Gracious God, may our study of your character help us to live lives that reflect you, strengthened in the knowledge that we abide with you through your grace. Amen.
The four texts for this Sunday join in warning the people of God that they should not be confused or intimidated by appearances or by how the larger society values this or that. A faithful hearing and responsiveness to the God of the Bible may not fare so well or look so good in terms of the world’s standards of judgment. But what is required and blessed is a community ordered according to the covenantal commitments, shaped by God’s gracious promises, and attuned to what Paul called the “foolishness” and “weakness” of God.
• Read Micah 6:1-8. When have you sensed God’s anguish over human injustice?
• Read Psalm 15. Where do you need to speak truth from the heart, do what is right, be without blame, or be reconciled?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. How have my limited expecta- tions of how God works caused me to miss God’s action in my life or the lives of others?
• Read Matthew 5:1-12. Which of the Beatitudes do you feel most blessed by? Which best describes your life of faith?
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