When Kings Go Out to Battle/When Kings Go to War!

    Jul 26, 2015

    Passage: 2 Samuel 11:1-15

    Preacher: William (Tex) Culton

    Detail:

    2 Samuel 11: 1-15 & John 6: 1-21

    As I compose this sermon, the nation and more specifically our congress is considering a treaty between Iran and 6 other nations to curtail its Nuclear Arms program to a certain extent in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions that were put in place years ago. If it is not ratified by congress and our president vetoes it and the veto is nullified, the options are more sanctions or a military response! Such are the ways of nations and states; elected officials and kings. War is always an option: the use of power to achieve desired results.

    You and I together are the Body of Christ. We are Jesus in this time and place, and we possess the power of the Holy Spirit (no mean power). How we use our God granted power is our decision. But it would be difficult, at best, to consider that war is one of the options we hold in our arsenal of gifts to carry on the mission of Christ in the world.

    When anyone considers the gifts of the spirit (wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues 1Cor. 12: 4-11) (The gifts that he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ. Eph. 4:8-12)

    Can one say that there is room for war in them? Do any of them lead to a military solution? They all lead to a life in Christ where we seek a unity with others to complete Christ’s work on earth.

    There is in Ephesians the insight from Paul that we put away our “old selves” our former way of life, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and renewed instead in the spirit of our minds and we clothe ourselves with a new SELF created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    We live in a secular world but we are not OF the world. IN but not OF….we are subject to the laws of nature and the land, but we are a leaven in all which we are involved. That means family, neighborhood, work, school, govt., friendships. We are never separated from the Love of God in Jesus Christ! We are Christ’s presence wherever we are. That is both an awesome responsibility and an admission of significant power. How we use the power of the Holy Spirit and all its gifts is of the utmost importance, because God is using us to SAVE the souls of every person on this planet.

    Just as Jesus was sent into the world to serve and save, and give himself up. So we are called to do the same without violence to another human being! We serve without trickery or craftiness, but speak the TRUTH in love.

    So you and I had better know the TRUTH from God, or we will be unable to speak it in love. Instead we will substitute our own feelings and rationalize all sorts of behavior that does not reflect Christ at all!

    Here’s your homework: What do you call the TRUTH? Are you committed to the creator of the TRUTH? How have you managed to stay in the TRUTH when the centrifugal force of life is constantly spinning to either throw you out or push you to the bottom?

    Kings use their power to satisfy their own lusts and secure and enlarge their kingdoms. I believe that one of the reasons the Old Testament witness was supplied to us, was to engage us in seeking to understand our human limitations, the freedom supplied us by a loving God, and the consequences of sin on our souls and the life of those we claim to love.

    So we have the story of King David rising from shepherd to king and his trials and tribulations as God’s chosen leader. He is portrayed as you or I would be; warts and all! We have this wonderful lead in line: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David……” It’s like that scene and song from Camelot….”tra la! It’s May the lusty month of May…that lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray!”   Guenevere and Sir Lancelot!

    But this is not a musical on Broadway or even at Madison High, but a Biblical account of the misuse of power by an ideal king chosen by God, acclaimed by the people and given the freedom to love God and follow his conscience…..but power can cause us to ignore the wisdom of our consciences and give us a false sense of control and security; as if the rules of righteous behavior do not apply to us!

    Every person alive has power; some more and many less. But nevertheless, we all have power whether it is over another person or only over ourselves. How we use the power we have is of the utmost importance to God and to our own moral and spiritual development….which translates to our relationship to God and to the world.

    David was attracted to a beautiful woman he saw from his palace and inquired after her. He was told that she was married, but he sent for her anyway. She came, because he was king and he either seduced her or raped her (lay with her) and she became pregnant!

    His one night stand became a problem. But he was a king and was used to solving problems, because he had the power to do so. He sent for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite who was off at war. David thought that Uriah would return, sleep with his wife and the pregnancy attributed to the husband. But Uriah had a conscience that would not allow him any luxury while his comrades’ and the ark of God were in Succoth (tents). So he refused to go see his wife or “uncover his feet”, even when drunk! He slept at the palace gate with the servants. (Hampton Court)

    David sent him back to battle carrying to Joab the orders for his execution….”Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”

    What was David thinking? He was thinking how he could keep from facing the husband of the woman he had used. He was desperate and so ordered Uriah’s murder.

    The story goes on, and I’ll finish it for you next week, but David thought that he could get away with misusing his power and there would be no other consequence than adding the widow, Bathsheba, to his growing harem.

    That is the subtle lie of all self-deceit. We can get away with it and it will not affect us. I’m sure that there are a multitude of sins that have never been exposed to public scrutiny. But that does not mean that they didn’t have an impact on anyone. Our souls are changed with secret sin, and we have to know that there are no secrets from God.

    David’s sins were forgiven, as are all confessed sins, but the story was recorded so that you and I, aware of the consequences can seek to avoid the misuse of power and instead, seek to serve God with imagination and love and look to Christ for the proper use of power.

    Jesus fed the 5000 with his power.

    When we contrast the way that Jesus dealt with his considerable power and the way David handled it, we have a difference that is supposed to be both highly visible and challenging. Are to ask what we would do with such power, or which use of power we would prefer.

    John’s gospel has the crowd so impressed by the miracle that they wanted to take Jesus by force and make him king! That seems to be the natural reaction of the human psyche to power. Let’s make them king! Real power to most of us is political.   Remember the temptation that Jesus faced after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness? ”Turn the stone to bread!” Remember his answer? “Man/One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

    Jesus saw hunger and thirst as our desire for the truth and a right relationship with God! Jesus fed the people out of compassion, because they were hungry and so that they might know that God provides for their bodies as well as their souls. He taught them how to live and reinforced the truth with acts of compassion; mirroring the very heart of God. And we, the Church, the Body of Christ, are called to do the same. Our acts of compassion simply reflect the heart of God and they plant seeds of faith in the hearts of those we serve. We are not seeking to control others or be given any special status. We are trying to live out our lives as God wills us to live. By doing so, we experience the fullness of life and life’s greatest satisfaction. (I came to serve, not to be served).

    Philip argued that it would cost 8 month’s salary to give even a little to each of the 5000. Andrew came up with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and worried that it was hardly enough! Jesus sat them down, in green pastures and like Moses in the wilderness, only better, because Moses complained to God that they were going to kill him, and Jesus knew that God would provide. Quail came so that the Children of Israel could have meant and manna appeared every morning so that they might have bread. Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes and all were fed and 12 baskets (enough for all the tribes of Israel) were gathered afterwards, leftover!

    When the church has a vision, a plan for serving the people in the name of God, there will be doubts about the limits of our resources and how much it will cost and how if we do something for one person or one group, then everyone will expect it and we’ll run out of energy and money. Nothing is forever! The people wanted to make Jesus king. (Why? So that they would always have a free lunch, or because anyone who could multiply food for the multitude, could drive out the Romans?) Jesus refused. God doesn’t have a problem with limits as long as the goal is the salvation of souls.

    We’re still trying to work it out. Jesus seemed much more concerned about the state of the soul and our lives reflecting the image of God than with the political situation.  

    We can spend a lifetime figuring out what Jesus meant when he said to Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and what we pray for when we say, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”   But this much I’m sure of, the Kingdom of God is within us and we are in the world, but not of it, when we are in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is in us.

    Weeks ago, we read where Samuel warned the people what life would be like under a king…War and Taxes! God wanted the people to trust that God would provide all they need, but their excuse was they wanted to be like everyone else (sounds like children arguing with their parents for whatever the other kids have!) So God gave them a king and David was the best they would ever have, until the Son of David came and reveled the way God wants power to be used.

    If you have power it is to be used for the benefit of others, not for self-aggrandizement. Giving to others out of compassion, healing, forgiving…You know the drill………feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner. Treat all as if they were Jesus, himself!

    Can’t do that? Try taking Jesus into your heart. It is amazing how your heart impacts your vision. You begin to see Jesus in all sorts of people; rich and poor, friends and enemies! And you’ll find that you have the power to accept and forgive and serve!