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Archive for August, 2008

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Early on, I learned the hard way what a disaster “concordance” evangelism  (i.e. “you’ve got a problem, I’ve got a Proverb”) is in really reaching hearts.   I think any thinking person, Christian or not, resists at some fundamental level  the idea that their questions have one-liner solutions, which so many parts of the Psalms and Wisdom literature lend themselves to if we don’t consider them in the context of the whole revelation of God.

And yet, there’s probably no section of Scripture that so intimately intersects with the reality of life in a way that transcends time and original context.  The beauty and the grittiness of Psalms that cry out about a man’s weakness (“every night I flood my bed with tears, I drench my couch with my weeping”) and even his doubts (“Oh Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?”) have, I believe, an immediate relevance to the unbeliever and the doubter.  The message of so many of the Psalms flies in the face of the unfortunate message that to come to Christ means you have to have your act together in a certain way, or have a certain sort of Pollyanna-ish positive attitude.  Christ’s transformative power in our lives doesn’t produce the Thomas Kinkaid world that denies the “not yet” truth in the “already” mystery of redemption.  I think that seeing how the Psalms acknowledge this can be very freeing for the seeker who feels that even if they accept Christ, they’ll never “live up” to the image that their misperception of the Christian life has told them they’ll have to immediately become.

Personally, I’ve gone through tremendous times of doubt and darkness in my Christian walk, and if it weren’t for the message of some of the more bluesy Psalms, I’d feel completely unqualified to continue any sort of evangelistic efforts during those times.  Instead, not only do the Psalms provide personal grounding for me, but they provide me with a scriptural way to speak honestly with unbelievers about my own struggles, yet still point back to the steadfastness of God.

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