Psalm 125 + Evening Prayer + July 19, 2017

What shapes your mind? What influences your thinking? What rules your heart?

Tonight’s Psalm expresses both confidence in God and a warning to Israel at a time when they were shaped, influenced, and ruled by a foreign power. “The scepter of wickedness,” i.e., the rule of evil people, is upon Israel. And in this terrible situation, “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion” – they cannot be shaken, they will remain loyal to God, no matter how bad things get. “But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers!” The greatest threat from the occupiers is not death, or torture, or slavery, or the theft of property. The greatest threat the occupiers present is to make Israel like them, to join them in their crooked ways.

Just two weeks ago we celebrated America’s Declaration of Independence. Our national anthem teaches us that we are the land of the free. Is that true? America’s government as designed was intended to give us the free exercise of religion. America’s culture as currently expressed is intent on not only taking away that freedom, but to enslave your mind such that you become assimilated.

Eroticism without love and commitment, leisure without work, creation without a Creator, consumption without consequence, entertainment without substance – everything surrounding you is designed to turn you aside from the Way of the Lord.

Our Lutheran Confessions speak about life under the rules of medieval religion as life in “a carefully planned prison.” Today, we experience life in a carefully planned amusement park, where we can amuse ourselves to death. The operators of the American theme park have but one goal: at all costs to keep you from the exit sign labeled Truth (with a capital “T”).

We are surrounded by constant temptations to deny the faith, or more likely to simply forget, to drift away on a current of consumption. That current is taking us closer and closer to the waterfall, where we plunge to our death.

Do we have the fortitude to swim against the tide?

What will that fortitude look like? What will it take to say, “I have time for prayer and Bible reading, even if I have to take time away from social media”? What will it take for us to say, “I have strength to confess what I believe to my friend, even if she doesn’t like it”?

You are not your lowest desires. You are what God has called you: a saint. You are not a victim of fate or circumstance. You are baptized, and a citizen already of the New Jerusalem.

You are not someone who will turn aside to the crooked ways. You are those who trust in the Lord. You are like Mount Zion: you cannot be moved, but you will abide forever, because the LORD surrounds you with greater strength than anything this world can offer you.

What shapes your mind? What influences your thinking? What rules your heart?

You have a Good Shepherd who has died for your sins and risen again for your justification. Let His mind be in you.