Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Unpopular Bible Opinion: The Psalms

If you were to ask a sampling of Christians what their favorite book of the Bible is, the book most likely to come up more than once is the book of Psalms. Christians tend to just love the book of Psalms.

Time for a confession: it's not my favorite.

I say that not to throw the book under the bus or to cast judgment on those who just love it - I believe that if you fall in love with any part of Scripture, it will draw you deeper into all of it, and that is a good and beautiful thing. If the psalms draw you nearer to the heart of God, then hallelujah. That's what it's all about.

But I also think it's important to sometimes say the things that are less popular, to go ahead and take the risk and say something that runs against the current of mainstream Christianity. Because I think doing so reminds us all that we each take our own path to God and that it's okay to do so. You don't have to be exactly like the person in the pew next to you. You don't have to have the same opinions on things. You don't have to understand in exactly the same way that they do. It's okay to love God from another angle and in fact, I would say it's good to do so. I have learned much from those Christians who have a different view than I do of the Lord. I have learned much from those Christians who just love the psalms.

The thing, I guess, for me is that it's harder for me to see God in the psalms. I love the Old Testament, the way it reveals the story of God and His relationship with His people; you can trace Him all the way through it and develop this deeper understanding of who He is. I love the New Testament, the way it puts flesh on the love of God and shows us how to live in the world as persons of love. It gets us right onto the ground with Jesus, and that's amazing. I struggle with the psalms because they are so deeply rooted in the human experience, pouring out from the heart of man. Which is precisely why Christians seem to love them so much, ironically. They seem so relatable.

They seem so relatable because the psalms cover the gamut of human emotion. They are praise and sorrow, exhaustion and energy. They are fear and courage, hesitation and movement. They are humility and boldness, introspection and observation. They are much more even than this. They are the kind of eyes of faith that see the world the ways that we are prone to, with a depth of emotion that latches onto our hearts and pulls on the threads we are afraid to unravel. And by including them in the Scriptures, God tells us that it is okay. It really is okay to be deeply human.

I just...I don't know. I grow weary of being human all the time, and I want to draw on the depth of my being that is created in the image of God. I want to hold onto that scarlet thread that runs through creation's story and not just the tattered yarns of my own life. I'm not afraid of being human; I just know there is something better than this broken world, and the invitation to dive deeper into a brokenness that I didn't ask for and that I don't love...it's hard. I'd just rather pull into the love and grace and mercy of God. I have learned to love my little story, but I just can't stop aching for His bigger one.

And so when I come to the psalms and they are so...human...I wrestle with finding where God is in them. I wrestle with looking for the love that's so easy to miss. I keep my eyes out for the bigger things, and it's difficult sometimes. It's difficult because the psalms could so easily pull me into a smaller story if I let them, if I'm not paying attention, if I allow myself to be drawn into the humanness of them instead of the holiness of them. I mean, isn't that the point? The holiness of them? So many Christians read them like they reveal so much about who we are, but aren't the Scriptures supposed to reveal so much about who He is?

So my unpopular Bible opinion is...the psalms are not my favorite. They are not the place where I discover the most - about myself or about my God. They are not the words I am most prone to relate to in a way that meaningfully shapes my life and my faith journey. They are valuable. They are beautiful. They are not useless. I don't hate them. But if you ask me what part of the Scripture is most beautiful or meaningful or relatable to me, my answer won't be the Psalms.

Again, the point in sharing that is this: it's okay to have a different journey with God than the person next to you in the pew. It's okay to love something more or less than someone else does. There's no shame in not being a psalms person, just like there's no shame in not being a Hillsong Worship person or a words-on-a-giant-screen person or a King James Only person or a Sunday Best Dress person or a Pray For Hours on End person or whatever. It's okay to love God the way He's wired your heart to love Him and to find the path of faithfulness that He's marked out for you. There is not one way in the world that the Lord speaks; He speaks to each of us in our own language, and that means we will find His glory in different ways. And this is good, for it means that you can show me the glory that I am prone to miss, and I can do the same for you. 

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