Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The ways of the LORD

Bible study today included Psalm 128.  Verse 1 reads:
"Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in His* ways." (NIV)
I read two sources of blessing in this verse.  First, there is 'fear the LORD'.  Second, there is 'walk in His ways'.

Fear of the LORD is acknowledging that He exists, and that He acts in this world.  Fear recognizes His power and control over the universe.  Fearing the LORD is the beginning of a relationship with Him--you cannot have a relationship with Him if you deny that He exists.

There are real, tangible, benefits to a relationship with the LORD.  The LORD is active in the world, pouring blessings on those who love Him.

The ways of the LORD are attitudes, values, and behaviors; like the Judeo-Christian work ethic.  Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.  Hard work, balanced by rest and community involvement.  Compassion.  Honesty.  Investment and delayed gratification.  Servant leadership.  Responsibility.

These are all good things to believe in, strive for, and do.  Even independent of a relationship with God, justice, honesty, compassion, and the rest amount to the best possible philosophy for a person.  There are no guarantees.  And every person is fallible, and will fail to live up to their own ideals and values.  But of all of the possible targets that a person could aim for, this target is the one that will most often lead to the best results.

Even independent of God, this pattern of life just works best in this universe.  I believe that this is because He created this universe, and it just reflects His nature.  So His philosophy of life is the most in line with the way that the world works.

It is not what comes natural to a person.  We are all selfish and short-sighted.  We are all lazy.  We all seek to avoid unpleasant situations.  But when we can overcome our own natural impulses and live according to His principles, then we achieve better results.

I think that the natural consequences of this philosophy apply to groups as well as individuals.

There is a movement within the business community to do good.  I don't think this is a mere fad.  I think it is a long-term trend towards improving business ethics.  If you study the history of business then you will see that companies in earlier ages were significantly more corrupt than they are today.  Much of what we decry today as corporate evil is simply how business has been done for millenia.

Likewise, government has been trending away from evil demagoguery and towards real justice.  This movement has been slow and methodical (and uneven.)  Power in government has been getting more and more distributed for all of recorded history.  I look at this trend and see hope for humanity.

I had not put it into these terms until now, but Democracy 2.0 is an attempt to better implement the ways of the LORD within a secular society.  I am working to see the values of doing good gain a stronger hold in this world.  Justice.  Responsibility.  Honesty.  Community.  These are the cornerstones of Democracy 2.0.

I can't market it to a secular society as "the ways of the LORD."  But I can, I think, improve the lives of people by giving them better government.  I think I can win the arguments for the mechanics of this type of better government, based solely on the results that will come.

If I can improve peoples' lives, then I believe that I am fulfilling Jesus's instruction to care for those in need.

Am I abusing the text, or is this a valid application of this verse?

* The NIV does not capitalize the h in 'his', here.  I couldn't make myself type it that way, I had to capitalize it.

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