Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Surely It Is God

First Song of Isaiah

Surely it is God who saves me

I will trust and not be afraid

For the lord is my stronghold and my sure defense

And God will be my savior

(paraphrase Isaiah 12:2-6)

Many of the Psalms and songs of the prophets of the First Testament carry this message of dependence on God. It may seem a quaint message for some, because we are not sure how to explain why God saves some, but not others in the modern world.  We don't like the idea that God prefers one tribe over another or  that some should perish without reason.  If God is "my stronghold and my sure defense" then who will be battered to protect me? What if the desperately needy are storming my stronghold? How does God remain just?

Since the Ten Commandments were instituted, we have assumed that God was just. The law was established to negate privilege and power as the basis for justice. The uneven enforcement of the law does nothing to undermine the ultimate justice of God, in the view of most religions.  The tide of injustice will eventually withdraw, and God's justice will prevail.

God's protection has nothing to do with justice.  We assume God's justice when we appeal for protection. We believe that "God is good-- all the time." It is a simplistic faith based on unconditional love. Faith does not complicate love; it assumes it. With Isaiah we can assert "God will be my savior," and stop fretting about who is saved and who isn't.
It turns out that believing in your own security frees you to consider the security of others.  That is why thriving churches reach out to those beyond their walls with food and services. That is why social services are full of workers who are grateful for their own deliverance. They are not generous merely out of privileged guilt, but out of the sense they have been delivered from disaster. They are part of the arm of God's justice to those without benefits.

Saying that "God is my savior" does not mean no one else should be saved. It means that all should be saved by the outreach of all.  Through those who are "saved" the hand of God reaches to those who struggle. Salvation is an endless cycle of sharing the love of God among all people. And so we realize the kingdom that is coming, the kingdom of heaven. We see it only with the eyes of faith.

Bill Tucker

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