‘Sitting with sinners’: thoughts from John about Psalm 1

John Down town 2

Thanks Phil for your sermon this morning reminding us to seek, and to constantly remember that God’s gift of Jesus is the source of healing, and wholeness, and joy, and for pointing out the distinctive features of people who know themselves blessed.

I was just reflecting on which comes first – the blessing, or the transformed living.  I think the two go hand-in-hand.  The blessing is, as you said, God’s free gift to us in Jesus. We realise that we are loved, treasured, precious and it is in response to the wonder of that that we seek to be more open to God, seek to be different.  And as we seek God, so we become increasingly conscious of the reality of the blessing.

I guess when I was younger, I burdened myself with thinking ‘If only I can be more disciplined, and more enthusiastic about God then God will bless me.’  But I never succeeded and the blessing seemed elusive until I realised that the blessing had been given: I was loved with a universal, divine love from which nothing could separate me. And so, knowing myself loved I was set free to become (on my better and clearer-seeing days) a channel of love.

The other thing I was thinking about was this. Psalm 1 could be read as encouraging us to shrink from ‘the world’ and shut ourselves safely behind a sanctified palisade. But verse one does not mean that we should physically absent ourselves from people who are not believers. The use of ‘walk with’, ‘stand’ and ‘sit’ denote not physical proximity, but degrees of identifying with mindsets and behaviour patterns which do not reflect the loveliness of God.

Sometimes keeping our distance physically may be the best thing, but most of the time we are called to befriend with open-hearted love those we meet day by day.  How do I know?  I think of a man called Jesus, who sat down with those who were pointed at as sinners, and showed them by ‘otherness’ of his love for them that they were loved by God.

‘Where have all the prophets gone?’ They are out there, in the streets and offices and schools and factories and gyms. They are out there in the shape of those who know themselves loved by Jesus, and show not condemnation, but grace and challenge, and in so doing, by God’s grace to allow the healing touch of blessing to penetrate troubled hearts.

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