There are 32,700-and-some verses in the Bible, depending on what translation you’re looking at. No, I didn’t count them; I took somebody else’s word for it. But I’ve read them all, more than once. And of all the verses from Genesis to the Revelation, if I could pick just one, snap my fingers, and have every living person on this planet instantly know, understand and believe it, this would be the one:
Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3).
Why this one? Why not one of the coffee mug verses from Philippians, or God so loved the world from John 3:16? Because this one settles so many questions all at once. You could spend the rest of your life realizing how many questions this one verse answers. It showed up in our two-year through-the-Bible reading plan this week. Did it stand out to you at all? Maybe I’m making too much fuss about Psalm 100:3 – if so, feel free to tell me so. Meanwhile, I’ll keep promoting it.
This series of letters lately has been called The Three R’s, and today’s is the fifth installment. I’ve been asking you to consider: wherever a cultural element intersects with your Christian faith, should you Receive it as all good, Reject it as all bad, or Redeem it, figuring the thing is inherently good but has been put to bad purposes? I’ve asked you to settle the question of identity: Who are you in Christ? And if you’ve been able to acknowledge that Christ is your life, actually (see Colossians 3:4), I’ve urged you to lay claim to having the mind of Christ (see 1Corinthians 2:16), and use it. With the mind of Christ, you’ll have no trouble understanding that every original thought has one thing in common with every other original thought: it is God’s, and finding his original reason for thinking the thought is the necessary first step in redeeming whatever thought has been run off the rails. Last week I assigned our voices as the first target of redemptive work.
Through simple observation, I’ve noticed something about this work of redeeming my voice: it only stops when I’m sleeping. There’s no Auto setting; I can’t send it off to play by itself without it saying something awkward at least, harmful at worst. That’s why I’m so grateful for Psalm 100, verse 3 – whenever I’m looking for something constructive for my voice to do, I can consult the Lord. He is God. He made us. This pasture called creation – it’s his. It was his idea to create my voice; I’ll figure the idea was a good one to begin with, and look for where I may be spoiling it. See how it works?
I think on the topic of gentleness a lot, meditating on a verse from Philippians nearly every day – Let your gentleness be evident to all; the Lord is near (4:5). I think of gentleness as the sincerest and most accessible form of blessing. I’ve also noticed that it has an incredibly short shelf life – if it isn’t kept flowing on purpose, harshness happens in its place, just because. Most days, what happens is what James described: From the same mouth come blessing and cursing (James 3:10a). And his Holy Spirit-inspired commentary on the situation: My brothers, these things ought not to be so (the rest of verse 10). What’s to be done?
Unless you’re Jesus, redemptive work is not one-and-done. Through much effort – and checking with the Lord to see how it’s going – the object of redemption is brought out from behind enemy lines. Some days go better than others. The point is, the work has to go on. Whether it’s our voices or anything else, anything worth redeeming (is anything not?) will come gradually out of its captured and soiled condition.
Think of all the redemptive work we could get going on if Psalm 100:3 was our starting point. No more conjecture about where we came from or how we got here; no more confusion about who’s really calling the shots. You and I, as Christians, could give up imagining that we have better ideas than God. Non-Christians could stop trying to answer the questions nobody needs to ask. The response to any question, no matter how monumental the topic, would be, “What does God say?” And if everybody, all at once, had the same starting point… hoo-WEE, Baby!
Have you ever thought of what one Bible verse you would pick for the whole world to know and believe, all at once? What would it be? If you can come up with one, send it my way, along with your reasons for picking it. By the time a total of 32,700-and-some responses come in, we could have the whole Bible covered!
We still have a long list of things to redeem – music, marriage, adventure, wealth, sex, civil government, social justice, and plenty more. What we get to and what we don’t get to in these letters is less important than going about the redemptive work in the right manner:
Know that the Lord, he is God!
Grace and Peace (through the good, hard work),