Psalm 122: The House of the Lord!
June 25, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
It is perhaps easy to think of the gathering of God’s people for church as a routine event. We get up, get ready, get the kids in the car if we have a young family, and turn up to church once more. There are some songs. There is a sermon. And it can all feel very much like a standard pattern, and perhaps—even—not always as exciting as we had hoped. After a while, a dose of cynicism may creep in, too, if we are not careful. We have come across people in church not behaving as they say that they do, or not being who they claim to be, and it can leave us with a sour taste in our mouth. But this psalmist has a quite different attitude.
“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (122:1).
What was it that gave this attitude of joyful enthusiasm to gather together with God’s people in God’s house?
- He had a vision for the purpose of God for God’s people (122:3-5). “Built as a city that is bound firmly together.” Surely he, like many others, knew that God’s people were not always this idyllic. But he looked back to the purpose of God for God’s people, and forward to what God’s people would be in time to come. If you are finding it hard to engage with your local church, perhaps you should first start to ask yourself what sort of theological vision you have for church. We are not solitary Christians. The New Testament knows nothing of a Christian who is not also a committed part of a local church. There is this vision for the church as a “city,” indeed a place of authority and safety, “thrones for judgment.” This is not just the building down the street. This is the church as God means it to be for the expansion of the kingdom.
- He prayed for the peace of God’s people (122:6-8). This “peace” is much more than a mere absence of strife, as good as that is when it is not a sign of the absence of conviction. No, this peace is not merely avoidance of difficulties, or the lack of a warlike spirit; this peace is wholeness, completeness, salutary health. So this psalmist not only has a vision for the kingdom purpose of the gathering of God’s people, he also himself is actively seeking that good. He prays for it. He seeks it: “For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.” Perhaps if you are finding it hard to engage with your local church in any committed way, it could be that you are not actually yourself prayerfully committed to the good of that church. We each have a part to play in church. It is a body. Everyone of us is needed. Seek the peace—the health, the good, the effectiveness, the wholeness—of your local church.
Next time someone says to you, “Let’s go to church,” think of this psalm. Think of all the people in the world who do not have a local church which they could call home. And rejoice; be glad. It is good to be a part of the house of God!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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