The Psalm is a cry to people to hold onto God. Not the “opiate of the masses” that Karl Marx spoke of, but an active holding on that requires us to meet intimately with God, and pay attention to what God says to us. Our whole being is to hope on and wait in God. That is certainly no opiate (dulling of the senses or thought processes) that Karl Marx alluded to.
The opiate that Karl Marx alluded to was more along the lines of “the people” dulling their pain through the “opium” of religion, dulling the senses and dulling the pain of life. Within the context of his writings, it made sense (and was in many ways correct) insofar as often the aristocracy (though now just as much elected leaders) used religion to suppress change. Hence many progressive Christians declaration that Jesus was a revolutionary that intended to overthrow organized religion.
In many respects, Marx was correct. Religion “dulls” the pain of a senseless world. Religion provides a framework from which to view the world. Where Marx fell short, from a Christian view, is that he still looked to people to solve the issue. For someone of Jewish descent who converted to Christianity, we might be able to grasp that perhaps Marx’s perspective of religion might not be as insightful as many would like it to be.
Truly, though, as we read in Isaiah, it’s not as if the Israelites were much better. Basically, Isaiah was calling the Israelites unweaned babies who couldn’t even speak coherently. “Tsav letsav, tsav letsav; qav leqav, qav leqav” is idiomatic wording for baby talk. Even by the time of Isaiah, from God’s point of view, it seems the Israelites hadn’t even gotten onto solid food (also see 1 Corinthians 3:1–23).
God’s response seems more to be, “okay, if you want to throw your childish temper tantrum because you don’t want to grow up in your faith and trust; so be it.”
Right now, in the current age, it seems we are surrounded by people throwing temper tantrums…and some of them bear Christ’s name! Peter’s words that judgment is upon God’s own household…that’s us! You may feel that God’s choosing the issue on your heart. You may be right. You may feel that God is not choosing the issue that someone else sees. You may be wrong.
The words from Peter that should catch us, “…if the righteous are barely rescued…” Those words should take your breath away. Maybe they should cause you to fall on your knees in prayer.
- What do you think is religious baby food or milk? What makes it that?
- What do you think is religious solid (“adult”) food? What makes it that?
- Reading Peter’s and Isaiah’s words, what are signs of spiritual adulthood? Which ones are you displaying in your life?
God, sometimes we succumb to our human frailties. Sometimes we just want to be kids again, and give up all responsibility. Help us to lead those around us, and those that follow us to be weaned followers of Christ. Amen.