The most memorable advice my grandfather gave my father in his younger years went something like the following: “If you don’t know what to do, do something, even if it’s wrong.”
I assure you, what Grandpa Mullet did not mean was that we should do immoral or ungodly things rather than being inactive. Rather, he was talking about efficacy, and what pertains to prudential debates, when this or that potential course will be waved off with the shaking of a head and shrug that it will never work, therefore we will not try it.
Something you have to understand in relation to this advice is that, for all my life, my father has been the kind to think deeply about all sides of a position rather than just quickly and comfortably settling on a conclusion or course of action, because this or that is what everyone else thinks, or it’s what the conventional wisdom holds to.
This fact and feature has had the upside of, for me personally, encouraging more careful attention being paid in making decisions, or giving answers to questions, especially the complicated ones. The easy answer is not always the right answer, nor is the answer first arrived at necessarily correct, or the best answer that could be given.
By contrast, before he passed, my Grandpa Mullet was decisive. He possessed, or else was possessed by, a noticeable bias for action. Sometimes that got him into trouble, though he too could weigh and measure various options. But seldom did he waver, in my hearing or observing, or in stories that have been passed down to me from my relatives on dad’s side, from the conviction that we should act when we see that there is a problem in need of a solution.
We should not be passive, assuming problems will solve themselves, or that we will solve them by ignoring their attendant causes and affects.
Knowing both my father and grandfather, I also perceive what was probably the unspoken reason for this advice, having everything to do with troubleshooting and the process of elimination.
In other words, you will get closer to solving the problems in question when you roll up your sleeves and start trying something, almost anything, that might even be a partial answer, and then tweaking and refining as you go until the objective is accomplished.
Thus I come, with that perspective in mind, to Psalm 2, and an important geopolitical question asked point-blank there:
“Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against Yahweh and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
Thus the stage is set, and our view of the world should be framed accordingly.
Wicked rulers look for ways to be unbound from God’s authority, and the Lord straight up laughs at them, because all their plans and schemes and fist-shaking is for naught, utterly futile despite their seemingly great wealth and power, because His is infinitely greater.
Keep this in mind, then, when it seems as though godless men hold hostage all the power and wealth in the world, and will despoil what and whom they will, without any accountability, without any justice. God will not be mocked, and a man reaps what he sows, even when that man happens to be a king, even when all the kings line up on the same side regarding the desire to throw off God’s rulership over them.
But some seem to forget this, even within the Church. Or else they think everything that happens proceeds apace, without need for engagement from the saints.
Calling for repentance? I hear us telling ourselves and one another that it is pointless. The nations and their kings will not repent.
Making disciples of all nations? They all must be saved from their nations, and into Christ’s Kingdom, or else it counts for nothing. Render unto Caesar what is Caesars. Render unto God what is God’s. Just let it burn, and the sooner the better.
Yet later on in Psalm 2, it becomes clear that the nations themselves will be Christ’s heritage.
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
But what does it say the Son will do with the nations which are his inheritance? He will break and dash them in his wrath.
Then comes the caution, nevertheless, to the kings of the nations. They should be wise. They have been warned. But someone warns them.
Thereafter they are told to “Serve Yahweh with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”
And if some one will say this sounds very political, I will say he is correct. That is what it sounds like because that is what it is. But go on a little further, please.
It is alright for this to be political. So fret not so much about that as you do who says so, and the implications for our engagement, or lack thereof.
As we survey the kings of the nations plotting in vain how to free themselves from God’s boundaries and strictures, and wonder what to do about it, in our own nation, with our own rulers, I remember the advice of my grandfather, and prefer accordingly an active response to a passive one. What did he say again?
“If you don’t know what to do, do something, even if it’s wrong.”
Yet I modify that advice, for the purposes of speech.
‘If you don’t know what true thing to say to them, that they will listen to, say something, even if they ignore you.’
Maybe at some point they will not ignore us, if we speak up. But heaven knows they will have an absurdly easy time tuning out the sound of silence.
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