Sunday, April 15, 2007

Not the symbol of the Galactic Empire

In the galaxy of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, the Galactic Empire had a logo featuring a spaceship and a sun. (In Prelude to Foundation, imperial security forces were called "Sunbadgers".) Today's reading from the Psalms doesn't have any spaceships, but it does say ...
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
Psalm 84:11
That's a sun and shield, not spaceship and sun. But more practically, I'm glad to read that the Lord bestows favor and honor. Because unlike some caricatures of the Lord as hanging judge or cosmic killjoy, the truth is that he wants to build us up and give favor and honor.

The next part of the verse -- that he withholds no good thing from the blameless -- I don't think is to be taken mathematically. If you don't have enough to eat, that doesn't prove that your walk is blameworthy. Nor does it prove that food is bad (or fasting is good).

And if you get some sort of auto-immune disease or cancer, that doesn't prove anything either. It reminds me of a place in the New Testament that tells husbands to be kind to their wives, so that nothing will hinder their prayers. Not mathematical propositions, but wise advice. I think we can count on God to be with us in whatever situation we're in, and we can hope for great things.

And this passage does encourage me to walk blamelessly.

But what does that mean? My understanding is not that we have to be perfect (thank God!), but when we're wrong, we ought to confess and repent. I recently read an article that illustrates this: The Joy of Being Wrong. The author said that when confronted, I have a choice: to seek truth, or to try to prove that I'm right (and my interlocutor wrong).

Being blameless means, I think, to seek truth in those cases. And if some time later I discover that maybe I wasn't seeking truth earlier, to then seek truth in that situation, and so on.

To turn toward the light always, in other words. To walk blamelessly and to seek honor. May the Lord help us to do so.

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