Saturday, May 17, 2008

Being Jonathan

Earlier this week I was reading a story from 1 Samuel. It contrasted the actions of Jonathan and Saul.

Jonathan, along with his armour bearer, was clambering among the rocks and “ambushing” the Philistine outposts, killing a dozen or so man. He hadn’t been told what to do. He didn’t have a “word” from God to act and everyone apart from the armour bearer was unaware of his actions. The words that he used when he addressed the Philistines reminded me of the words that David used about Goliath – uncircumcised dogs that had not right to be there. He was not hiding or afraid, or unsure of his action. He saw something that offended him and made plans to dispose of it.

The way the story reads, Jonathan’s actions released God to move. He sends confusion into the main camp and the Philistines start killing each other. Jonathan had been like a catalyst – a flame to dry wood – and God has seen His heart reflected in Jonathan and responded. There are some people, and some things that people do that make them entirely irresistible to God and He just can’t help himself from joining in.

Saul and the rest of the Israelite army, however, were miles away sitting under trees, dithering and inactive. Saul had a priest in his camp but didn’t use him to seek a word from God what to do next. Once Jonathan had picked the fight, he eventually joined the battle – but he wasn’t the initiator. He didn’t “act”, he just “reacted”.

There were a few other groups of people who get a mention in the story – the ones that had swapped sides and joined the Philistines did a “U” turn when the Israelites were winning. They wanted to be on the winning side. They had joined the Philistines because they were winning at the time, and now they weren’t winning they moved camps. There was also a bunch of other people who were hiding in the hills. It wasn’t until they could smell victory that they came out of their hiding places to join the battle.

I was challenged to think about where I would be – would I be like Jonathan, filled with a sense of “this is so wrong that I must put it right”? Would I be the armour bearer – stirred to follow “heart and soul” a person like that? Would I be like Saul, having access to the word of God, but passive and accepting and waiting for a better time to act? Have I somehow joined the other side, the people who are “winning” at the moment? Or perhaps I am hiding in a hole somewhere in the hills above the battle!

I was also challenged about how easily I could justify the actions of each person or group. I could see where they were coming from and feel a kind of sympathy for them. I have never been in a war zone the way they have. My life isn’t under threat. I have access to food and water and comfort and security and if I didn’t who is to say that I would act any differently.

However, that said, I am in a spiritual war zone and if my life is not under threat then I must be so harmless to the enemy that I am not worth the effort to eliminate!

Does anyone who reads the story think “I am Jonathan!”? Do we even want to be Jonathan? Personally, I think I am quite comfortable to be the armour bearer where there is someone else who is calling the shots, making the hard decisions, and I am following! I can do that. I am ashamed if I am Saul here – with access to God’s word, but not expressing his heart in my actions.

I want to be Jonathan. I want my actions to be so irresistible to God, that the things I do mirror His heart and He can’t help but join in. I want to live a life that allows God to do the things He wants to do and doesn’t limit Him in any way.

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