1.If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
—let Israel now say--
2 if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
when our enemies attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
6 Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
I write this a few days after the 2016 presidential election, and although there was a winner, I think it would be a stretch to say that God was “on” either side. Christians were on both sides, however, and in some cases, enthusiastically and dedicatedly so. This had been bothering me, since I was more or less of the opinion that neither candidate had much interest in working out “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
So who is the “us” in Psalm 124? Is it merely the 8th century BC Judeans who had dodged a bullet via miraculous intervention after the Assyrian invasion? Or can the “us” be some group today, maybe minority and immigrant Christians escaping from the wild-eyed threats of the Trump monster? Or maybe, “uneducated” white people who have escaped the clutches of an evil Supreme Court, eager to gut White Anglo Saxon Protestant culture from the country? Increasingly, it seems to me that the trap from which we need to escape is the fear and anger that we Christians nurture at the feet of the idols and the “boogeymen” of our own creation.
This I know, that the only escape from our own sin is to renew our allegiance to the reconciling Gospel of Jesus Christ and to commit together to his Lordship in order to deprioritize our other loyalties: denomination, political affiliation, racial identity, patriotism, educational level, social status, and yes, even gender identity.
We will never be on the same team, and God will never be on the side of “us” unless Jesus makes us one. This is theologically and historically demonstrable.
Take your right hand and pretend that it is all the Republican Christians that you know. Take your left hand and pretend that it is all the Democratic Christians that you know. Hold your two hands as far apart as you can, just as far apart as you can, just as far apart as we seem to be. Now, bring your two hands together, and interlock your fingers to the inside. Close your two hands upon each other, as though your hands were a seashell repressing all the bitterness that we are all feeling and expressing. Now say, “this is the church!” Draw your index fingers together and point them towards God in prayer; say, “This is the steeple!” Draw your thumbs apart while you say “open the doors!” (yes, Lord, open the doors of our hearts to you and to each other!) Open your hands and say “And see ALL the people!” There you have it—US!