Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, today I pray for Christians around the world. I pray that you give us strength. I pray that you help us find answers to the difficult questions that arise when confronting both fellow Christians and those who do not practice Christianity. Finally, I pray that Christians around the world remember your love so that we may also show your love, even in times of fear and great distress. Amen.
Reading: Psalm 14 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Psalm 14: Verse 1 “The fool says in his heart, / “There is no God.” / They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; / there is no one who does good.”
Psalm 14 provides a commentary on atheism, no doubt. The psalm begins by making a statement about atheists and the implications of atheism, and it ends by offering a prayer for salvation.
It also raises an important, and challenging, question: Is atheism to be feared? Psalm 14 highlights an ever-growing fear of widespread atheism. Why this fear of atheism? What do we make of the carnivorous language inherent in this psalm? (“Will evildoers never learn – those who devour my people as men eat bread,” Psalm 14, Verse 4, emphasis added.)
A related question is this: Should we feel threatened by atheism? Often times this feeling of being threatened (feeling like the weaker animal, that which stands to be devoured) results in the impulse to act defensively. We have all seen, or at least heard of, such defensive actions between Christians and atheist groups.
While I do not have answers to the difficult questions inherent in Psalm 14, I believe that it is important to remember the final verses of Psalm 14. The psalm ends on a note of hope – hope for the continued practice of Christianity. It is this hope that we must draw comfort from when we feel fearful or threatened. When we feel these things, we must remember that we are not alone nor easily defeated. We are a part of God’s kingdom, and it is a kingdom of greatness. By calling on God’s love and the Lord’s teachings, we can shed our fears and our defensiveness and, instead, focus on the glory of the Lord now and to come. --Courtney Dunn
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