I’ve been supplementing my Bible reading with readings from the Christian Community Bible lately. It’s a different translation, but the footnotes are the key. Here is what it said about 1 Samuel 17
David’s fight can easily be compared to that of the Church. She leaves behind Saul’s armor when she looks for less structure, less worry over financing her works and buildings; when she frees herself from political support. In abandoning all these securities, she makes herself freer and younger. Like David, she goes to battle trusting “in the name of Yahweh, God of Israel’s armies.” – the Christian Community Bible (Footnote)
In any ministry situation the greatest temptation is to do whatever you do for the glory of the organization. It’s really hard to not be a little jealous when that other church has 5,000 people or that person’s prayers are always being answered with miracles. All of those feelings come from looking at the wrong things.
In Luke 9:62 Jesus said whoever puts his hand to the plow and looks back isn’t fit for service in the Kingdom of Heaven. The point of the Kingdom, the point of following Jesus, is Jesus. If we spend our time looking for an audience, and a building to put them in, we may very well get that audience, but not the Kingdom of Heaven.
The trick, of course, lies all in the motives. It may look exactly the same to a critic that sees us building a building, but God looks at the heart. If God calls us to build a big building, let’s build it, always focusing on the kingdom. If God calls us to leave behind the building so that we can follow Him, let us give it away and run. If God calls us to be a part of the political machine, then let’s do it in the most Holy humble way that has ever been done, and never make that work our security.
The funny thing about this quote is that you can turn the quest away from structure and financing into it’s own legalism that is as awful as the structure and the financing.
In all of this, Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven, is the right way. Focusing on methods, politics, music, etc. are all cultural preferences that will be different in 5 years. Focusing on Jesus turns our lives into a single scenic journey instead of multiple personality disorder with some religion thrown in.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”