Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. (Psalm 89:14 NIV)
The passage of the 11 anti-gay initiatives has alarmed me and stirred up within my heart a continuing alertness to what God is doing in us, through us and with us during this hour. I feel compelled to write about something that has been welling up in my heart every since the election. That being God’s call to judgment and that this judgment will begin first with His Church. Len, from www.godsfriends.co.uk web site and I have been trading emails back and forth over the past several weeks on this matter. During our email conversations he shared with me some Scriptures that the Holy Spirit had quickened to his spirit. One of these passages, Psalm 89:14 touched my heart deeply. More importantly though, it helped solve a perplexing problem I had been struggling with. That being why are so many churches and denominations today drifting further and further away from the heart and soul of God’s Word (Matthew 22:36-40) and towards a ‘gospel’ that preaches intolerance, discrimination and prejudice? Something the Lord is firmly against (Luke 11:42; Micah 6:8; 1 John 4:19-21). Where have we missed it?
The Habitation of His Throne
The answer lies in Psalm 89:14, but before I get ahead of myself, we need to start with the focal point of this passage. That being what lies at the heart, or “foundation” of God’s “throne.” The word “foundation,” or “habitation” in the King James version, comes from the Hebrew word “makown” (Strong’s #4349). This word literally means “an abode, foundation, dwelling place” and something that is “properly” fixed in place. What God is telling us through this passage is that His dwelling place and kingdom is only properly “fixed in place” if two key elements are present: righteousness and justice. The implications of this are deep and far reaching for without God’s continual presence in our lives “we can do nothing” (John 15:5-8). Worse than “nothing,” our lives and our priorities will, overtime, become misguided and misdirected. Why? Because we have begun to veer away from God’s “habitation” and towards a self-made agenda composed of our own ideas, fears and misconceptions. We can’t help it! God’s ways are so far beyond our own (Isaiah 55:9) that without His guidance we can’t help but steer back towards our comfort zone and preconceived way of looking at the world. This principle applies to individuals as well as spiritual institutions because God dwells in us both individually (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) and corporately as the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:19-22). Therefore it is imperative that God be properly “fixed in place” in our lives as well as in our churches and denominations.
Righteousness and Justice
It is an interesting phenomenon that when reading this passage we seem to instinctively focus on the word “righteousness.” Yet in the Hebrew rendering of this passage the order of the words is reversed and the word “justice” comes first. Furthermore, while the NIV has translated this word as “righteousness,” the literal meaning of the word is “judgment” or the proper manner in which something is to be carried out. It also means to protect and uphold “a participant’s right or privilege” (Strong’s #4941). We can see the literal meaning of the word more clearly in the King James Version:
Psalm 89:14 (KJV) “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.”
No matter what the translation is God is telling us through this passage that His dwelling place cannot be built upon injustice. We see this principle echoed throughout the Old Testament (Micah 6:8; Deuteronomy 16:19-20; 1 Kings 10:9; Job 8:3) as well as the New Testament (Matthew 12:18-21; Luke 18:7-8) with some of Jesus’ harshest rebukes reserved for the religious ‘elite’ who had forgotten the basic tenants of their faith and were practicing instead a harsh and judgmental doctrine.
Luke 11:42 (NLT – bold and italics are mine) “But how terrible it will be for you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.”
Is the Church guilty of the same charge today? What exactly is justice anyway? Does justice mean that the majority is always right? Does justice mean that whatever the consensus of the Church is, equates to the truth? Webster’s defines “justice” as being “the maintenance or administration of that which is just: the administration of law, according to the rules of law” and “the principle of rectitude and just dealing of men with one another.” In plain English, justice means to make things right and to enforce the laws of the land without prejudice or indifference. So what law is the Church to enforce “without prejudice or indifference”? Is there an all-encompassing command that God has directed us to follow? If you asked this question to a hundred different denominations you might get a hundred different answers. Many would say the Ten Commandments while others would point to their denominations doctrinal statement or the latest Papal edict. Still others would say that there simply is no great commandment and that everyone should decide for themselves what is right and wrong in their own lives.
The Great Command
I believe that none of these assumptions is correct and submit to you that there is only one great commandment and overriding law that God has given us to follow. Furthermore that this commandment has been with us since the beginning of time (Matthew 5:17-18; 1 John 2:7a). Jesus summed it up best when He said:
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:40 (Amplified) “These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Simply put, we are to love God first, and then we are to love others, as we love ourselves. If we embrace and follow this belief, we are following God’s will for our lives and we are not living in sin. The Apostle Paul put it this way:
Galatians 5:14 (Amplified) “For the whole law [concerning human relationships] is complied within one precept. You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.” Romans 13:8-10 (NIV) Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Is God’s great commandment of love being equitably administered? No. Most in the church could care less if a gay person has sworn their life to Christ and has made God first in their life (thus fulfilling the first commandment of love). Nor do they care if our relationships are rooted and grounded in love (thereby fulfilling the second commandment of love). All they can see is that we are gay!
Matthew 23:13 (NIV) “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
God could care less about such things! Such artificial divisions and classifications are created by society, not by God!
Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV) “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
We need to change how we view one another and see ourselves as God sees us! When He looks at us He doesn’t see male or female, black or white, Gentile or Jew, Iraqi or American! He sees all followers of Jesus Christ as one family, indivisible from Him and from each other! (1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-5) There is no separation in the Body – we are one in Christ! Therefore the great commandment of love must be, according to God’s own edict, equally enforced across the entire Body of Christ without prejudice or indifference. To not do so invokes the second aspect of His presence: judgment. The Coming Judgment Is God a cruel and harsh God? No! So why then would the second component of His dwelling place be judgment? Because God loves us and He loves His Church! Therefore, out of love, judgment must come to strip away that which is not of Him. The Church has been praying and praying for a closer walk with God and the Holy Spirit is about ready to grant her that wish. But that closer walk with Him comes at a price, a very steep price and I’m not sure how much of what we now know of as the Church is going to be left when He is done. Why do I say this? Because my eyes have been opened in the last several weeks to the harsh and judgmental spirit possessed by so many Christians today. Where is the love? (John 13:34-35; 1 John 2:10-11, 3:10-15, 4:19-21) There is none unless you believe exactly as they do. Kindness and mercy? (Galatians 5:22-23) Forget about it if you’re gay. Heck they’ll even go after other ‘straight’ Christians if they come from a denomination or church group they consider ‘weak’ or a ‘cult.’ Faith? Their faith is a brittle thing concocted from a hundred sermons they’ve heard and pamphlets they’ve read. Studying something out for themselves means calling their pastor for his opinion or ordering the latest tape from ‘so-and-so.’ Where are these people going to be when judgment comes and the world seems to be crumbling around them? What will happen to their faith if their pastor or others that they respect fall away?
Love and Faithfulness Go Before Him
Our Christian walk isn’t supposed to be like this. We, not God, make our faith so complicated, so ethereal and so unrealistic. Yet Jesus laid it out so plain for us to see. Faith and love; it doesn’t get much simpler than that. Is Christ coming soon? I doubt it because the Church simply isn’t ready yet. (e.g. Ephesians 4:11-13, 5:25-28; Matthew 12:25 also see Matthew 3:7-10 and compare to Galatians 5:22-23) The Psalmist said it like this; “love and faithfulness go before (Him)”. We could paraphrase it like this; Jesus isn’t coming until love and faith become the only issue the Church is concerned about. We’re not there yet but you can bet your “bottom dollar” that the Holy Spirit won’t let up until it is.