1 When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us;
We are glad.
“Then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.'”
But do they?
I read this psalm this afternoon, and as I read I reflected on what a great salvation we have, on being brought out of captivity. It’s so marvelous that at times we may feel as though we’re dreaming. And whenever we are able to grasp a little bit more of the reality of grace, we are filled with overflowing joy. But I’m not sure that those around us, unbelieving observers, are always able to make the conclusion that God has done great things for us. This ties in, I feel, with many of the sermons preached this past weekend at Resolved. The Church is to be holy, set apart, for Christ the Bridegroom. The Church is to be separate from the world, and to such an extent that the world looks on in wonder. The Gospel does remain folly to those of the world, the Word tells us this. But the Word also tells us that we are to be undoubtedly distinct. To try to conform to the world or to dumb down the Gospel or to not share the truth with our friends is to be flirting with compromise, and to compromise our convictions and our calling is to forsake the charge given the Church by Christ.
Are we separate? Are we holy? Indeed, we are, because God has declared us so. But does the world see this difference? Are we viewed as “children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” so that others look and wonder at what God has done for us and in us? To be anything less is to be a poor steward of that light entrusted to us, the Church.