Jonathan and Saul — ignoring evil in the Body of Messiah

So often, when someone comes to me heartbroken about spiritual abuse (abuse carried out by a minister against a parishioner, often in full view of the congregation) they are not nearly as upset about what the minister did as they are about the lack of concern from their brothers and sisters who saw exactly what was going on.  Imagine being violated in front of an audience who show no concern nor take any action against your attacker!

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This week I am teaching my sons from I Samuel, and today we read chapters 21-23.

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Jonathan loved David as himself, they were in Covenant together.  Yet David routinely had spears chucked at him by Jonathan’s father King Saul, and even escaped a nighttime attempt on his life which also was ordered by Saul.  So we have to wonder what was going on in Jonathan’s mind when David said, “Dude, your dad is like trying to kill me,” and Jonathan replied, “No way!”  Seriously?

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Um…. where was Jonathan where the spears were being hurled?  It was Jonathan’s own sister in bed when the men came in to kill her husband, David.  Good grief Jonathan, after the first spear got lodged in the wall the threat should have been rather difficult to ignore.

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But I have seen this same thing happen in church.  How many times does the pastor have to preach against people from the pulpit (either by name or with just enough details that everyone knows exactly who they mean) before someone starts thinking that “Hey, maybe this guy has a problem.”

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Saul threw spears and sent armed soldiers, some pastors throw words and gossip over the phone.  And yet the people closest to them turn a blind eye and dismiss the obvious, that the man with the spear, or the words, has become a threat to the Body.  And the reason is generally the same.  Saul was intimidated by David; he considered a man who loved him like a father to be a threat (even when no one else saw the threat).  Oftentimes we see the same thing in church.  No one else sees the threat, and so the Pastor has to make sure that everyone sees it.  Just like Saul, who loved to tell people how dangerous David was to him, about the unsubstantiated threats to Saul’s life and throne, even though David never once acted against him.  And evidently Saul was able to convince some people, because he never lacked for loyal minions willing to go hunt down David, despite their being no evidence of his guilt (apart from Saul’s accusations).

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Interestingly enough, Jonathan refused to believe the overwhelming weight of evidence.  He ignored the death threats, the actual attempts on David’s life, and the armed execution squad that invaded his own sister’s bedroom.  He tried to deny it to David, and even tried to prove David wrong.  It was only after three days of trying to prove David wrong that a spear hurled at his own head convinced him.

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Isn’t that typical?  So often in these situations, the people I talk to themselves turned a blind eye while the pastor abused whatever person was in line before them.  It might be about wanting to put our faith in a man, but I know that a lot of it is simply about wanting church to go on as usual.  We want the Pastor to look good so we can look good, so we can pretend that we are the right people who are doing the right things.  Maybe we even see and we hope someone else will have the courage to speak up so we won’t have to.  And so when the accusations come, we don’t question them the way we should; we don’t demand proof and we just continue to allow the anonymous character assassination to go on; we don’t consider how deeply crushing it is to someone to have no way to counter accusations that aren’t even being given out in the open (or even discussed in person), but instead hide behind the cowardice of anonymity.  Or maybe we enjoy hearing someone rebuked as long as we don’t have to look them in the eye, as long as we assume they have it coming.  But we can’t put our faith in any man to be that honest with no proof.  It is an injustice to the accused when we sit through those accusations in silence, and not only that but paying him to to it!

 

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So what convinced Jonathan? Jonathan was convinced when he got treated like David. Selective outrage is when we only respond when we are the offended party. when we or sometimes someone close to us is abused in some way. Until we feel the pain, the pain is deemed irrelevant and that is a terrible cancer within the Body.

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Sadly, even after that attack, Jonathan stayed with the illegitimate ruler over the people when he could have given up his comforts to follow David.  As a result, he got to watch (figuratively) the destruction of the priests of YHVH, from the city of Nob, as well as their families.  He got to stand by as the Gibeonites (under Covenant with Israel) were slaughtered.  David loved Jonathan, but I don’t.  I have no respect for him; he stood by and allowed too much evil to happen to too many people — and he ended up dying right alongside his father.  The consequence for tolerating injustice and oppression, in a Kingdom or in a Church, will be to share in the fallout when God restores righteousness and justice.

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Honestly, it would be better to live in a cave with the King than to live in a palace with an oppressor.

 

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