The significance of Psalm 11, Psalm 149 and the parable of the talents
Try talking to Christians about the impotence of the western Church vis-à-vis secular society and more often than not you will get one or more of these reactions:
Diffidence: You are met with vague agreement but no interest in exploring how the Church might present itself more assertively.
Defensiveness: There is a respectful negative reaction, anything resembling criticism of the Church cannot be countenanced.
Deferment: Something will happen in God’s good time; there is no pressing need to do anything until then.
Christians with a poor grasp of biblical exegesis often invoke Psalm 11: 3; “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do” to support either their diffidence, their defensiveness, or their deferment (the three Ds). They ignore the first verse (1a) which clearly means that when our security is in the Lord vv.2-3 are of no consequence for vv.4-7 apply. Moreover, these last 4 verses tell us God’s anger burns against what the wicked are doing. There is no basis for the 3Ds in Psalm 11, quite the reverse. God’s people should be equally appalled as God a is and determine to do something.
If we move to Psalm 149 we are confronted in no uncertain terms with what we should do in response to wickedness; after all, it is to be found at every turn in the post-Christian West. Time spent in praise and worship (vv.1-5) is to be matched with a strong biblically-principled reaction to wickedness (vv.6-9). We are supposed to take the double edged sword of God’s precepts and lay them forcefully and prophetically (c.f. my definition of the ‘prophetic’ in my book NGC) on the wicked. In doing so we heap the burning coals of their rebellion on their heads and bring souls to Christ by so doing.
Those who resort to the third D (deferment) seem to have misplaced the parable of the talents. It makes it very clear that we are to be the most active when God is not – when he is ‘far away’. Of course by far away Jesus does not mean he leaves his people on their own but rather he watches expectantly wanting us to act in loco parentis – on his behalf and with his help s we pray for his enabling.
If you are familiar with the Next Generation Church (NGC) Strategy you should recognise that it is compliant with Psalms 11, 149 and the parable of the talents. I could go even further than that. It also fulfils the Christian’s obligation to do the works of faith a la Mt 23:23, 1 Pe 3:15, 2 Cor 10:5, Jude 3 and John 14:12. But more on that in a separate blog.