Psalms 76-100…When people are big and God is small.
One of great tragedies associated with Christianity in the past 50-60 years is the rise of the prosperity gospel. If one simply thinks critically for a few minutes about how inconsistent this worldview really is with the bible, it is quite amazing how popular it has gotten among Christians (though in some cases it is clearly a barrier to understanding the true gospel). The idea that this life is about us, and that we can get what we want from God if we simply believe that our words will magically produce those results seems silly if you stop and think about it. However, we also know that Satan is constantly at work to deceive, and he uses teaching cloaked in “christian” language to draw people away from God.
When we make people big and God small (Ed Welch – When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man ), it shouldn’t surprise us when a popular theology arises which emphasizes health and wealth in this life. There is nothing new under the sun though, and at its core, the prosperity gospel is a repeat of the idolatry seen in the Garden when Adam and Eve elevated their needs and wants above God. So, we need to gain a new appreciation for the greatness of the God we are privileged to love and worship. The writer of Psalm 97 helps to lift our vision to a new level with his description of a God before Whom the whole earth trembles.
The earth trembles because God controls the forces of nature. He can light up the earth with His lightning, and turn the mountains into wax (v. 5). No other god, no idol fashioned by the hand of man, has any claim that can match or surpass the one true God.
Yet the earth is also called to rejoice in the fact that our God reigns. Verse 2 suggests the reason. God is not a cruel despot or a whimsical tyrant who simply does as He pleases without regard for the consequences.
On the contrary, God’s throne is built on righteousness and justice (v. 2). And because He displays these characteristics to an infinitely perfect degree, those who seek to know and worship Him can have absolute confidence in His character. If we can see God as He truly is, it will take our worship and our entire Christian life to a new level. But sometimes there are other things–problems, habits, the needs and concerns of daily life–that block our vision and keep us from experiencing God as He desires. When our worldview is primarily about our needs, then these things will discourage us. But, when we truly believe that God is sovereign, and is using trials to make us more like His Son, we’ll trust Him and thereby glorify Him more.