Eastwood and Aroostook on Ownership

Neither Hollywood nor Washington gets much time here in this blog, but last night I watched the video of Clint Eastwood’s speech at the Republicans’ recent convention. “We own this country,” he said. A roar of assent from the audience. “And when someone isn’t doing the job, we’ve got to let him go.” Another roar of approval.

That statement will probably be the catalyst for all kinds of debates, and I do understand the context and the point Mr. Eastwood was making; but his talk of ownership reminded me of something we too often forget: 

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. (Psalm 24:1)

I’ve just caught a glimpse of one of the Lord’s jewels, Aroostook County. The northernmost county of Maine, Aroostook covers almost 7,000 square miles and is the largest county east of the Mississippi.

In just two days’ drive, one can only sample the flavor of such a large place; but I saw blue and purple mountains, glittering lakes, green river valleys, and deep forests broken occasionally by sunny meadows filled with thick drifts of Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod. We drove by hunting lodges, huge grain and potato fields, serene rivers, and tiny towns of no more than eight or ten houses. Aroostook may call itself The Crown of Maine, but it is surely one of the Lord’s dazzling jewels.

He owns this earth and everything in it.

For He laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. (v. 2)

He is the One who made it. He owns it. The people of a democracy might like to think they own their country, but the long drive through Aroostook reminded me there’s a much bigger and even more important perspective: This earth is the Lord’s; His hand made all this, including the people of this world. It is all His.

Who may climb the mountain of the LORD ? Who may stand in His holy place? (v. 3)

Who may even come into the presence of such a high and holy God, the one who made and owns it all?

Only those whose hearts and hands are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies. (v. 4)

Do not despair, thinking of how impure your hearts and hands may be … Christ has taken care of the stains blotched across our lives. His blood washes away those stains; He dresses us in spotless robes and presents us faultless to the Father. Hallelujah!

But two things hinder us from entering fully into His presence today: worshipping idols and telling lies.

In Biblical days, people worshipped man-made idols thought to have power over every aspect of life. In our day, all kinds of things usurp God’s rightful place in our lives–careers, possessions, passions, political parties, even a church or our loved ones. Any of those things can own us, claim to provide for us what God alone provides, and demand worship and devotion that belong only to God. If there are idols in our lives, they keep us from entering fully into His holy place.

And we cannot enter if we tell lies. Scriptures are very clear that God hates lying; Jesus said He Himself was truth. But I’m wondering if this particular verse might be referring to the lies we tell when we say we follow Him, but we are following other gods; when we say we trust Him, but we do not live with assurance of His care; when we say He is Lord, but we do not yield the throne to Him. Those kinds of lies keep us from climbing the mountain of the Lord and standing in His holy place.

Those whose hearts and hands are pure, who have burned their idols and do not lie, those people

…will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior.(v. 5)

You own this earth and its people, Father.
We seek your holy place,
to live in Your presence all the days of our lives.

Amen.

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