Newsletter 06 November 2020 : Episode 68

Trump or Biden? As I write it’s not clear who has won. Whoever prevails may find victory a poisoned chalice. Don’t worry, no politics here, but the events have made me reflect on the nature of ambition. Am I as pure-hearted in my ambitions as I would like to think? Are you?

Christians face a tricky but creative dilemma. We are magnificent – and – we are deeply flawed. How do we handle this dichotomy? Psalm 8 might help.

David begins by reflecting on God’s glory as evidenced in his creation, “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1). He asks a very relevant question,

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

(Psalm 8:3–4)

Why should we consider ourselves worthy of God’s attention when we have made such a mess of all that he so gloriously created? And yet, the Psalmist goes on to say, “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.” (Psalm 8:5)

Us? Us who damage the planet and oppress the poor and marginalised? We are crowned with glory and honour? Why would God do this? What role could God possibly give us on this earth considering our indisputable lack of suitability for any significant responsibility?

“You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”

(Psalm 8:6–8)

We are rulers! Surely God has got that wrong. I’m not fit to be a ruler. I doubt you are either. And yet God chooses to make it so, and, indeed, the Psalmist celebrates the fact, “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9 NIV11)

God is majestic in his creative powers, and he is majestic in his trust in imperfect human beings. You and I are magnificent and messed up. God knows this. He exercises great patience and extraordinary grace in allowing us to ‘rule’ his creation. We have significance and we have responsibility. God realties to us as beings he can trust. 

As Pete Greig said in his Lectio 365 devotional recently,

“Psalm 8 is our protection against insignificance and arrogance.”

Pete Greig

I would love to walk my discipleship as someone who is significant and humble. Meditative prayer on Psalm 8 looks like it could help. If we kneel we are fit to rule. Whether my leaders kneel or not, I can do so, and pray for them.

What helps you to blend healthy soberness of your limitations with celebratory acceptance of your magnificence?

The week ahead

If you’d like to pray for me I’d be very grateful. Here are some of my plans that you could include.

  • A sermon for the Watford Church on Sunday 8th November – Remembrance Sunday
  • A fourth Tuesday teaching tip in the current series – “Be Confidently Vulnerable”.
  • The next “What we are reading episode” 
  • The seventh quiet time coaching episode from the series based on Pete Greig’s book, “How to pray”. We will be looking at disappointment in prayer.
  • Working on a teaching series for January and February 2021 on the character of Abraham and those connected with him in the Scriptures. 
  • Planning Christmas services for the Watford and Thames Valley congregations
  • Investigating Masters programmes in the field of theology with the aim of beginning in 2021.

Until the next time, 

God bless, Malcolm