Psalm 53

"There is no one who does good, not even one."

If you didn't know this, Psalm 53 is almost identical to Psalm 14. The musical notation at the start of each psalm is different, so perhaps it was the same song set to different music. Also, where Psalm 14 refers to the Lord as Yahweh, Psalm 53 calls the Lord Elohim ("God"). There's also some slight wording differences. 

In my prior reflections upon Psalm 14 I dwelt upon the opening line, shared with Psalm 53: "The fool says in his heart, 'There’s no God.'" Here with Psalm 53 I'd like to dwell upon a different line: "There is no one who does good, not even one."

Obviously, there's some hyperbole with "not even one." The thrust, though, of the line is that virtue is scarce and rare. Here's the fuller context:
God looks down from heaven on the human race
to see if there is one who is wise,
one who seeks God.
All have turned away;
all alike have become corrupt.
There is no one who does good,
not even one.
I think the reason these lines jumped out at me is because I've been thinking a lot lately about Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount:
"Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it."
The words that jolt me here are "and few find it." 

There's this widespread assumption that Christianity can "grow." That a church can become "mega." But I wonder if this is true. How can a church become "mega" if only a "few" find it? The math here doesn't make any sense. And Psalm 53 paints an even grimmer picture: "All have turned away." "Few" becomes "no one."

And lest this be interpreted as some culture war pearl clutching, me wagging a finger at the world, let me rush to quote Paul here: "What business is it of mine to judge outsiders?" I'm talking about Christians here. As Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.'" By "few" I mean us, not them. I think every culture warring Christian should get off of social media and read Luke 18 over and over and over again. And then read it again:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’

“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I mean, if we want to frank about it, culture war Christians are walking down a path that leads straight to hell. I don't delight in that assessment, I'm just connecting the dots. I mean, Jesus is the guy who looked the moralism of religious folk directly in the eye and said, "I assure you that the tax collectors and sex workers are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." I would not want to be a social media Pharisee wagging a finger at the world the day the Lord returns. I'd rather be sitting at a table being lambasted as the friend of sinners. Just sayin'...

And maybe this is why, to return to the issue of mathematics, only "a few find it." Because you can grow a church with the culture wars. A church fueled by resentment can become "mega."  

I guess what I'm trying to say is this:

Size makes me suspicious. A wicked Christianity is a scalable Christianity. You can grow a rotten church.

Authentic Christianity is possible, but few find it. 

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