The central theme of the psalms that we return to regularly is this: God gave us a purpose to care for his creation, we distorted that calling with selfish living and self-seeking behaviors, and even with all that missing the mark behavior – God still has not cancelled his covenant with us. This is why in our faith community we stress COMMUNITY over INDIVIDUAL HEROICS as a way to reflect the kingdom of God today, wherever we live, whatever we’re doing.
If this was an individual assignment, I would wilt under the pressure, but as a community mission – I can breathe and add my shoulder to the rest of the shoulders that are pushing a plow through this field that is ripe for the harvest. What a relief!!
Very practically speaking, this is one reason why I feel so blessed to have Scott as an Associate Pastor (more commonly referred to as our Ass. Pastor), because on days when I am weak and wilted, he is sturdy, and vice versa. But this isn’t just a “paid staff” thing – we really are a community. Scott and I have some responsibilities that extend beyond the roles of others, but our community participates fully in pushing the plow. We aren’t the only ones who visit the sick – in fact, many of our folks visit way more than we do. Each person does what they can and most stuff gets taken care of because of the team effort.
That doesn’t mean that our individuality is of no value! Consider King David, a man after God’s own heart – as king, he served as a “head” representative of God’s call to care for creation. We see this in the psalms when they talk about how a king will represent God’s intention for mankind to establish rule on earth as in heaven. Of course, David has some major screw ups along the way. David is both a man after God’s own heart and one who is deeply flawed. I love how the psalms show us that even the top dog, in this case David, experiences humiliation and repentance. This sure helps me put my own shortcomings and defects of character in proper perspective. (By that I mean it eliminates the temptation to feel terminally unique when I mess up, for one thing.) It also provides a model for us as to how to respond to our own limitations.
Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion!
2 Wash me completely clean of my guilt;
purify me from my sin! Psalm 51:1-2 CEB
I make a ton of mistakes and the 12 steps provide a way for me to deal with them, along with the scriptures that teach me about amends and forgiveness and whatnot. But one thing the psalms provide is a return to right remembering: God is faithful in love, great in compassion, and restorative by nature.