Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
Author Anne Lamott, who documented her faith journey in a series of bestselling books, wrote that nearly all prayers can be condensed down to the three essentials: “help,” “thanks,” and “wow.” Many of the psalms contain a mix of two or all three of these; some focus on one. Psalm 12 is David’s cry for help at a particular time and in particular circumstances, but it is also perfect for today’s people of faith.
Does it seem as if the wicked prosper while the good suffer? Do the troubles of the poor and the needy seem overwhelming, even to those who want to offer aid? Does truth seem in short supply, while rumors and lies flourish? Can we even know what’s true anymore, with all the fakery that abounds everywhere? And what about all the evil in the world? Is God even listening? Help!
The psalm identifies many universal problems, but it also expresses confidence in God’s ability and willingness to rise up and rescue the oppressed. It offers hope. “I will protect [the weak and needy] from those who malign them,” the Lord says. And the words of the Lord are “flawless.” His promises are pure and good and reliable. The wicked may “freely strut about when what is vile is honored among” us, but the “Lord will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.”
The tricky thing is we, the people of faith, must resist the temptation to join the wicked in their flattery and boasting speech. The desire to fit in, to be accepted, even to be an example, is strong, and not just in our modern culture. Wanting to be one of the gang is simply human nature. How many of us have joined in when a friend was ridiculing someone, saying, “Oh, it’s only a little harmless fun.” How many of us have embellished our resumes, so to speak, by representing our lives on social media as shinier, more attractive, more sophisticated than they truly are. Because we want others to think better of us, right? Where’s the harm?
It’s the proverbial slippery slope.
Jesus calls us to follow him (and not on Twitter). He calls us to give up attachments to things that don’t last, like material possessions, sure, but also like fame. We don’t want to make enemies, but making friends for the wrong reasons, such as to prove ourselves worthy by their sheer number, is no different, really. It’s so easy to slip into a life of lies and boasting and striving for more. Our culture encourages it. But Jesus did not bend to the expectations of his culture. He kept his eyes on the goal: being obedient to God’s will, even to his death. How can we resist the whims of culture and keep our eyes on Jesus? Is it humanly possible? Help!
Exactly. We cry out to God for his help. Every day, every hour, every minute if necessary, we call on him to guard us from the temptation to lie or cheat or misrepresent. The world needs people of faith to be honest and authentic. To be fair and truthful. To be the light illuminating the path to Jesus and his gift of salvation. To be the help and the hope for the people around us who are drowning. We cry out to God, and he answers. He rescues and guards and protects. And his promises are good and reliable. To that we can say “thanks” and “wow.”
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (Children’s Worship and nursery care available). Discovery Hour is on summer break.