Music, Self-Defense, Loving People

Music, Self-Defense, Loving People

Lisa and I had a good vacation, but it’s good to be back with you. Our favorite bit was a week on a small lake just outside of West Glacier, Montana — a gift from God. Warm nights, windows open, the haunting call of loons on the lake. Not quite the same as living within earshot of I-90. Hoping to go back some day (photos from Glacier NP attached).

Sunday evening we’ll talk about music, within the Church and without, and a deeper matter to which we may pay little attention, namely the illusion that we are guided in life by rational decisions, when in fact we are following our emotions, covering our tracks with rationalizations. I’ll try to argue that music helps us make peace between the two, shaping both our hearts and our minds.

I’ve had lots of questions about my comment that classical biblical ethics prohibits self-defense. It’s true, but there are many exceptions: soldiers in service, police, etc. (all these “bear the sword” [Rom 13:4] on behalf of others, not themselves). The same applies to you protecting your home from an intruder. The sticky part comes when you are alone, under the command to turn the other cheek — which means not simply ignoring the offense but opening yourself to the next one (“But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also” — Mt 5:39). Here’s the key: Jesus is calling us to entrust ourselves to God’s care, even in moments of (potential) physical violence. If God is not real, you’re toast. If he is real, you will have learned, again, to trust him. Even the evil person acts under His sovereign hand.

In this moment of #MeToo and BLM, there are many versions floating around of this statement: “to love other people is to love God.” Should we say that, or should we say, “to love God is to love other people”? Is there a difference, and what bearing does the sequencing of the Greatest Commandment have on such a statement?

There’s no doubting, by the way, that #MeToo and BLM have come in God’s Providence. He has ordained all that comes to pass. The Church has things to learn. If we dismiss such moments by viewing them only in the light of cultural or political movements that we oppose, or perhaps hate, we miss the whole point of God’s Providences. One of the great works on Providence in our tradition is by English Puritan John Flavel, who ministered under extremely adverse political circumstances. Flavel was adamant that God had brought those circumstances to train the Church of Christ, as well as his own soul. Let your soul be trained. See you Sunday.