Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Christian solidarity

Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.” David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD's anointed.’” (2 Sam. 1:11-16)

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Cor. 12:26)

Christians are members of one another, members of one body. For those who are believers, we are one family and should support one another.

When one part of the body suffers, as 1 Cor. 12:26 says, all suffers together. When one part is honored, all rejoice. There is no rejoicing in the downfall or hardship of another.

In 2 Sam. 1:11-16, we see King David in some sense putting this principle at work. Saul was David's mortal enemy who always plotted to kill him. Yet he is part of the covenant community. Furthermore, as God's anointed, he represents the people of God. Whatever his wickedness towards David, his death means the defeat of the people of God at the hands of the uncircumcised Phillistines, the enemies of God. His death is a blow against God's Name and God's honor, even though on the one hand it was God who handed Saul over to be killed, it was nevertheless disgrace for Israel and God's Name.

The Amalekite slave lied to David. Saul had committed suicide with his own sword, and nobody was responsible for his death. Saul died pitifully, a person once chosen for the glory of God's earthly representative in the theocracy, but he incurred the covenant curse for sparing Agag the king of the Amalekite and his flock when he was commanded to devote them to utter destruction by cherem warfare (1 Sam. 15: 1-9). Here at Mount Giboa Saul died, his life as the delayed penalty for violation of God's command to devote the Amalekites to utter destruction, life for life.

The Amalekite slave should not have lied to David. Yet he did, trying to gain glory and approval and reward for getting rid of David's enemy. The problem however is that Saul was not truly David's enemy, though the other way around holds true.

For his deception, the Amalekite slave received the immediate death penalty, a poetic justice seeing that the Amalekites were supposed to be exterminated by Saul, which apparently he failed to do.

Without going further into the intricacies of the text, the key point that I want to note here is that David and all his men wept for Saul. In their minds, the glory of God and of Christ is pre-eminent. They knew the disgrace Israel had fallen into, they felt the pain of the suffering of the other members of the body, they wept at the plight of God's people. Nevermind that this will work out in David's favor. Nevermind that David does not have to flee from Saul anymore. All these are irrelevant, for God's glory is diminished. Ichabod! The glory has departed from Israel.

What does this has to do with Christian solidarity? We are the people of God. We are his peculiar people, a people for his own possession (1 Peter 2:9). As a family, we stand together, or not at all.

Readers will know my profound disagreements with Evangelicalism on various issues. And to some extent, I have disagreements with Campus Crusade too, which I do not want to spell out. But when push comes to shove, I will stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sometimes, it is not that what any group of Christians do that is perfectly right. Sometimes they have made errors in judgment. But when the world attacks these Christians, how can we join them in pointing the finger just because they are not like us? Don't we know that our growth in knowledge and godliness is because of God's free grace? Are we arrogantly sitting in judgment over our brother just because he may have made a blunder?

We are not speaking of the out and out heretics. I do not care one bit for them. But not all Christians are at the same level of doctrinal maturity. Surely we do critique them and oppose them when they are wrong, but such is done out of love, and therefore we support them and stand in solidarity when the world attacks them.

We must be like David, not the Amalekite. Weep for the plight of Zion, and beseech the Lord for strength and mercy. This should be our right response

10 comments:

Conrade Yap said...

Hi, you used the word "evangelicalism." Are you confusing it with evangelism?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, you know, there is a wideness in God's mercy. Billy Graham is the Baptist pope, don't you know?

And, really, stop judging T. D. Jakes, Mitt Romney, Jimmy Carter and President Barack Obama. They will be judged by the light they have. Why cain't we all jes' git a long?

Carl F. H. Henry and Kenneth Kantzer on Evangelicalism

PuritanReformed said...

@Conrade:

no. I mean "evangelicalism."

PuritanReformed said...

@Charlie:

I'm sure you meant that sarcastically

Jehovah Mekoddishkem said...

Wonderful post

When it comes down to it the royal blood of Jesus is thicker than water!

PuritanReformed said...

@J M:

agreed

Charlie J. Ray said...

Yes, I was being sarcastic. Sorry about that. It's just that I've been reading Mike Horton's systematic theology and so far I am finding that it is far from edifying. He capitulates way too much to postmodernism.

I attribute that to Van Til's theology of analogy.

Robert Reymond's systematic theology is far better than Horton's, imo.

PuritanReformed said...

@Charlie:

I don't read Horton for epistemology.

Daryl said...

You should know that Christians are the most disunited group of people.

Instance 1:
Ps Rony Tan made a gaffe regarding his comments on a religion. The netizens went wild and attacked him viciously. And just to be on the right side of those netizens, some Christians join in the attack of Ps Rony just to show how "tolerant of other religions they are" and how "moderate" they are.


Instance 2:
Josie Lau and the AWARE episode where there were many Christians who wanted to be on the correct side of the authority and so criticise Josie.

Conclusion:
You can be sure about how disunited the Christians are. If let say a hypothetical Church called Kampong Presbyterian Church with a congregation size of 300 ran into trouble with the authorities will a hypothetical mega Church like Big City Church with a congregation size of 30,000 be bothered about helping and praying for Kampong Presybterian Church? I'm sure they would not as that is their Church problem and not ours. Why should we stand with them?

You know if Big City Church commit an error do you think the authorities will dare to ask the Church to cease all activities especially when it has influential members there and significantly huge following to give them some headache. But they will definetly not be afraid to shut down the activites of a small para Church organisation if they commit the same error as this para Church organisation is 1)Small and have little influence and muscles to influence and 2)Hardly anyone is loyal to a para Church organisation as opposed to a Church and it would not create any ripple effect.

You see, if the Churches around the world say enough is enough and that if a para Church organisation is being attacked we shall all stand with her as ONE then surely the authorities will think twice before making any decisions on asking it to cease its activities.

PuritanReformed said...

@Daryl:

yes, I know.



To all:

Go think about this! The ecumenical liberals who speak all about unity will leave you out high and dry when opposition comes. It is we who critique you in love that will stand by you when trouble comes.

Think about who you wish to have for your friends: those who sweet talk to you and forsake you when trouble comes, or those who critique you but will be there when opposition arrives.