Have you ever pursued something with such an intense drive and unwavering persistence that people around you said you were “all in”? Have you ever been in a sticky situation where you can say you and a group of others were “all in the same boat”? Consider for a moment the beauty and power of Niagara Falls or the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon, you cannot help but stand back and “take it all in”. We are often “all in” when the stakes are high, when we have nothing else to lose or in some circumstances everything to lose.
1 and 2 Samuel describe a man who was “all in” when it came to living life. Known as a shepherd boy, courageous warrior, devoted friend, king and most notably a “man after God’s own heart”, David was a visionary leader who lived his life under the direction of the Lord. When I read through the life of David in scripture one of the things that grips my attention is how many times I read the words “David inquired of the Lord.” David, blessed by God, went to Him for direction and decisions in life trusting that He would provide for his needs and the needs of his people. With the confidence in knowing that God had a plan, David was able to lead his people through some incredible obstacles and unbeatable odds with God’s help. I want to say that David never lost sight of his vision, but he did, he was human just like you and I. David, despite his shortcomings stood in the light of a great and powerful God who was the foundation that his vision was built on. David had success in his leadership because he was focused on God, he knew where he was going and what he was doing because he was following God.
When the Lord sent Samuel to call on David we learn something about David even before he enters the scene. David was different, it was not physical appearance or stature that set him apart, it was what was in his heart that pleased the Lord. As leaders today we can’t take this point lightly, we need to examine what is in our heart. What is at the heart of our leadership? What as leaders in the church today is the foundation of our mission and vision? Without God, without a passion to lead with God’s direction, our vision is empty and fruitless. Being a Godly leader means being “all in”, the stakes are high, we are fighting a battle for lost souls. We have everything to lose but so much more to gain when our hearts and lives follow that of God’s will.
The English language offers up some great idioms, an idiom is “a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words” We use them all the time, phrases like: “Piece of Cake”, “Costs an arm and a leg”, Break a leg”, “Let the cat out of the bag” and “Bite off more than you can chew.” Today the idiom, “Two sides of the same coin” (different but closely related characteristics of one idea) best describes my thoughts as I reflect on the idea of biblical community in the book of 2 Samuel.
In my last blog entry, I highlighted the story of David and Mephibosheth and how it reminds us of the compassion, kindness and love that community should be built on (one side of the coin). The flip-side or contrast to this story is found only a few short chapters away, the account of David’s actions with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 11). This short account conveys the effects of a sinful human nature, a self-serving desire and its devastating consequences to the true nature of biblical community (love, kindness and compassion vs. lust, deceit, and hostility). David, a sinful man by nature, was also a man dedicated to living a life pleasing to the Lord. Yet he falls, he commits adultery and murder to ultimately get what he wants (Bathsheba). David destroys our earlier perception of his desire to rule as a one who sets an example of living in community. In chapter 12 of 2 Samuel, Nathan makes his way into the narrative with a story of his own, a tale that points the finger of shame and disappointment on the actions of the King, David had become blind to his own actions. This destructive behaviour is the work of the Satan in our lives, he finds great satisfaction in breaking down our heart, soul and mind.
God never moves from the center of community, His desire is to be the one that binds everything together. It is us who shifts to “left field” once and a while. There is a beautiful component to living in community with God and other believers, and that is the powerful words that come through confession and forgiveness. David’s realization and confession of his sins, brings him back into the center of relationship with God. We too have this amazing privilege. David’s life changed from that day forward (things happen that were beyond his control even as a king) as it does for us. When I think of the two sided coin, I hope and pray that my actions reflect the life I live in Christ rather than the flip-side.
Have you ever felt convicted to do something? On 13 September 2008, Christopher Irmscher set the Guinness World Record for the fastest 100 metre hurdles wearing swim fins. Christopher felt convicted to do something unique to get his name into the record books, his accomplishment so far stands undefeated as no one else has felt the calling or conviction to beat his time. (I wonder why?).
Searching through 2 Samuel and reflecting on the nature and function of biblical community seemed like a stretch when the majority of the book primarily details the many battles and life of David as King. Nestled between the accounts of David’s many victories in battle and the scandalous story of his indiscretions with Bathsheba we find the story of David and Mephibosheth. A story that reminds us of the compassion, kindness and love that community is built on. David, true to his covenant promise to Jonathan does right by showing his “unfailing kindness” (1 Sam 20:14) to the last of Jonathan’s family through the inclusion of Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son) into his house as if he was his own son. David’s kindness, his compassion, extends from his relationship with Jonathan and ultimately from his relationship with a gracious God who had provided for Him.
Biblical community is found when God is the center of our relationships. The nature of our relationship with God is built on love; His unconditional love for us and at our best (often failing), our hearts desire to love Him back unconditionally. David felt convicted to reach out to Mephibosheth, I believe that God was using Him to be an example to others, an example of how to show compassion and kindness when it might be hard. God’s love for us, the conviction that he lays on our hearts comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. David, known as a man after God’s own heart lived a life obedient to God, he failed at times like all of us do. It is what he did with that failure that we need to recognize as we live in true biblical community. David acknowledged his failures, he confessed his sins before the Lord seeking forgiveness so that with a pure heart he could continue living a life pleasing to God.