The recording for this past Sunday's American Idol: Security is now posted. For those of you that are listening on the web alone and aren't able to or haven't been in our worship gathering with us each week, you should know that after the sermon we take some time to respond to it, question it, and offer other perspective/thoughts about the given topic. A couple of great and difficult points were brought up this week, and I said that I'd respond more in depth during the week. Please understand and read these questions only in the light of the sermon (read: "listen to the sermon first!").
What about the Kings and Nation of Israel in the Old Testament? Doesn't this show in scripture a balance between the pacifist Christ-King and a people of God who fight for God?
It's notable that in the very first place, when the people of God (Israel) told God that they would like a king to rule over them, God basically said, "Um...no you don't. A king will take your sons and make them work for his armies and take your daughters and make them work for him as well. And a king will tax you and take your best things from you." But the people persisted and said, "No, we are determined to have a king like the other nations." And so God said, "Okay, have yourself a king." And the rest is history...
God even goes as far as to say (to Samuel), "When the people ask for the leadership of a king, they are rejecting my kingship."
You can read it all in I Samuel 8.
The other story that I alluded to was when King David "counted" his armies (II Samuel 24 or I Chronicles 21). The two accounts differ on how it happened, but the main point to David was this: don't count your armies and/or people.
The power of God is always to be the power of God's people. Or, again, the people of God are at their best when they rely on nothing but the strength and power of their cruciform God. As one person noted on Sunday (in context Zechariah...not Gideon), "'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts."
In light of that verse from Zechariah, I can't help but think again of the theme for yesterday: the people of God are at their best when they rely on nothing but the strength and power of a cruciform God. When has the Church been at her best? Look at Pentecost, for one. What was the power of that day? The very Spirit spoken of in Zechariah (and not might or power).
So does God leave us powerless?
Absolutely not! That's the whole point! God gives us great power! But it doesn't look like power as we tend to know it. His strength and power to drive out fear and evil is love (I Peter 4:16-21). And Paul gives us some great words about what our defense ("security" we might even say) does look like in places like Ephesians 6 (the armor of God). But take note that Paul says that we have this armor to "stand against," to be able to "withstand," and to "stand firm." He doesn't speak at all of "going and getting people." Yeah, yeah, I know...Paul talks about having the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." First off, any fencer will tell you that a sword is as much of a tool of defense as it is of offense. Second, there's that "Spirit" again, which we already know is not of "might nor power." Third, the "word of God" is our defense, so wonderfully demonstrated to us by Christ during his time of temptation in the wilderness/desert (Luke 4:1-13 and Matthew 4:1-11). Thrice Christ uses the "word of God" to defend himself against the "wiles of the devil," just as Paul mentions at the beginning of this passage.
I can't help but think of some of the great martyrs of our history: people who decided that fighting wasn't the way of the Kingdom and ultimately lost their life on this earth (for now) as they knew it. Martin Luther King, Jr. is perhaps my favorite. This short speech gets me every time (he spoke those words the very day before he was killed...haunting words). He also said, "Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."
But perhaps best known to us is the account of the first martyred follower of Christ, Stephen, in Acts 7:54-60, where again, we find this "Spirit" of the Lord. It says that Stephen, full of that Spirit, laid down his life. So we see that the people of God, when filled with the Spirit of God, don't fight back...but remember that there is more than living (and dying!). It doesn't make any earthly sense. :-)
This has turned into a much longer post than I meant, but I can't help it...I continue to hold to the notion that God has more for his people than we see in the way we generally respond to the evils of the world.
Again, the question for us in all of this is, do we trust God? Or are we trusting other things in the place of God (the very definition of "idol")...?