Posts Tagged ‘hearing the truth’

2 Samuel 19:1-14 (Part 1 of 3)
Joab Rebukes the King

I am now in the beginnings of the third semester of my doctoral program. I had to take spring semester 2018 off due to the job change and move to Illinois. But I am back at it again now. We have four semesters of course work to do in the program before candidates can begin their dissertation process. So, after this semester, I will be ¾ of the way through the course work. This semester, the course is Missions & Evangelism. One of the seven books I have to read this semester (already have two of them read and now have begun the third), Becoming A Contagious Church, had a profound statement in it very early on in the book. It kind of kicked me in the pants as a pastor. At pp.16-17 of this book, the author, Mark Mittleberg, states the following:

“We talk a good game but our actions speak louder than our words. According to a recent survey, a mere 14% of pastors claim that their churches are heavily involved in evangelism. Do we really care about lost people? Are we convinced that everyone we know, without exception, needs to find the forgiveness, friendship, life and leadership Jesus offers? Do we truly believe in hell and that our friends and family members will end up there if they don’t trust in Christ before they die? Doe we REALLY believe that? If so, are we willing to stretch and take risks to warn them? Are we willing to invest the time and energy in developing churches that will attract, challenge, and teach them to step across the line of faith?

Jesus commanded us to become contagious Christians and to build contagious churches that will do whatever is necessary with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to bring more and more people to Christ…Evangelism is the primary reason we are left on this planet.”

Early on in this book, Mittleberg shoots straight with us about why most churches today are stagnant, declining, or only growing through “transfer growth” (taking members from other churches). Very few churches are actively drawing in unchurched or dechurched. It is because we no longer place an emphasis on personal evangelism. We cannot become contagious churches if we do not personally become contagious Christians, Mittleberg later says. Talk about a kick in the pants. No holes barred, unadulterated truth. And the real kicker in his early statements in this book is that he says that the fault lays at the feet of the leaders of churches. If we do not live lives that are marked by personal evangelism, then, then, then, how can we expect our people to see personal evangelism as a priority. It’s just that simple. People follow the example set by their leaders. Simply by the nature of my position as a pastor at my church, though I am an administrative pastor, that sets the bar higher for me just as it does for the two other staff pastors and our senior pastor. Just as at any church, the pastoral leadership must lead the way by example when it comes to evangelism.

Bam! In yo face, Mark! There’s no saying that it’s not my job or that it is not my giftedness. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is an unqualified imperative statement. Implied in the version of the verb to go is that is collective plural “you”. If it was a full sentence instead of the elliptical sentence it is, it would say, “You go and make disciples!”. It is the collective plural you in the present tense. We all are ordered to go and make disciples. Not just those who are gifted at sharing the gospel. We all must go. In the present tense, it means now. Now, we must all go. It is inherent in all Christ followers from this command that we share the gospel now.

Sadly, as Mittleberg says and it is so true, most of us Christ followers live in a cocoon of all Christian friends. We have no friends in our social circles outside the fellowship of our churches often. How many friends do you have that are not Christians? How many friends to you have that are unchurched and unsaved? I know the answer for me is a very precious few. Talk about a book that is a convictor of the Christian soul and one that does it early on in the book and in the bluntest way possible. Sometimes, we need to hear the truth because otherwise we would not deal with it.

This time, it was a book. But there are times when we need to hear the truth from a live person. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable but necessary. Do you have a friend or family member or someone at your work that has the guts to tell you the truth when you need to hear it?

David got the truth from one of his employees in this passage – the straight on truth. Let’s read the passage, 2 Samuel 19:1-14, now and see how Joab lays it on David:

Chapter 19
1 Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2 As all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. 3 They crept back into the town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. 4 The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”

5 Then Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, “We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines. Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed of ourselves. 6 You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. 7 Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.”

8 So the king went out and took his seat at the town gate, and as the news spread throughout the town that he was there, everyone went to him.

Meanwhile, the Israelites who had supported Absalom fled to their homes. 9 And throughout all the tribes of Israel there was much discussion and argument going on. The people were saying, “The king rescued us from our enemies and saved us from the Philistines, but Absalom chased him out of the country. 10 Now Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, is dead. Why not ask David to come back and be our king again?”

11 Then King David sent Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, to say to the elders of Judah, “Why are you the last ones to welcome back the king into his palace? For I have heard that all Israel is ready. 12 You are my relatives, my own tribe, my own flesh and blood! So why are you the last ones to welcome back the king?” 13 And David told them to tell Amasa, “Since you are my own flesh and blood, like Joab, may God strike me and even kill me if I do not appoint you as commander of my army in his place.”

14 Then Amasa[b] convinced all the men of Judah, and they responded unanimously. They sent word to the king, “Return to us, and bring back all who are with you.”

In this passage, we see that, at times, we must share the hard truth with those people we have relationships with, whether it be with family, with work associates or superiors, or with friends. Joab knew he was risking the king’s displeasure by confronting him, but David was so caught up in his own grief that he could not see what it was doing to the morale of the nation. Joab told David that there would be dreadful consequences if he did not commend his troops for their victory. There are times in our lives where we need someone in our lives to give us the cold, hard truth.

Just like Mark Mittleberg laid it on me in his book, Becoming A Contagious Church. As a pastor, if I expect results in evangelism from our people, then, I have got to live the evangelistic lifestyle in front of them. I have to break out of my cocoon (though it was not intentionally formed) of Christ follower only friends and acquaintances. As a pastor or a heavily involved member of a church, you can easily find yourself with Christian only friends. It’s easy to get into the rut of not venturing outside these circles. We need a kick in the butt as leaders to be intentional about seeking out opportunities to connect with unchurched people in our midst. We need to seek opportunities with our neighbors who we know are not saved and try to interact with them, gain an entry into their lives, make relationships with them, and earn the right to speak into their lives. We must have urgency about seeking out those who do not know Jesus just in our own neighborhoods. We cannot expect our church members to do it if we are not modeling it ourselves. Man, it is so easy to get so focused on the busy-ness of church that we can forget that evangelism is why we, ourselves, are working for the church. If someone had not shared the gospel with us, we would not be where we are.

Just as Joab tells David that he needs to get off his pity pot and start leading the nation again. His got so wrapped up in his own life issues that he had forgotten how to be king. He needed a kick in the butt from Joab to say, “hey buddy, I know you are hurting but you got a country to lead!” We all need reminding sometimes of what is important, what our duties are, what responsibilities we have. We need those people in our lives that will shoot straight with us.

Amen and Amen.

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