Posts Tagged ‘not just living it out’

1 Kings 1:5-27 (Part 1 of 2)
Adonijah Claims the Throne

How much do I blame on my dad and how much blame do I place on myself? Why is it that a preacher’s kid does not come to Jesus Christ as His Savior until he was 39 years old? I think there is enough blame for both of us. In this day and age where nobody takes the blame for anything, often blaming it on their parents, I think my dad and I both can share the blame.

First, let me say that I love my dad dearly. When I was growing up, he was a tough but loving man. I knew when I had crossed the line with him. His discipline was firm and unflinching. The boundaries, the lines in the sand, for our behavior were unchanging and did not move. If you crossed the line, you paid for it in one way or another – always. He was consistent. However, he would play ball with us. He would wrestle with us. He would take us to ball games. It is from him that I got my passion for football, particularly college football. We would have great conversations about life. I have no fault with my father as to how he raised me. He provided us with a good life growing up. Sure, I didn’t have everything I wanted but hey standing here at age 56, it did not crush me. It was a good life growing up.

When we were little, I think he spent more time discipling us than he did as we grew into preteens and teens. Maybe, he thought we had gotten it. Maybe, those public professions of growth such as confirmation classes and such, maybe, he was assured that we had accepted Christ as our Savior and that we were maturing in faith. I don’t know but it seems that he took his hands off as far as discipling his children when I was about 10-11-12 somewhere in there. From that point on, it was up to us to want to seek Jesus Christ.

For me, personally (I cannot speak for my older brother), that meant that I was on my own in my faith (other than the influence of godly men in the churches dad served). For me, that meant drifting away from Christ – whom I had never truly accepted as my Savior and Lord. Oh I knew Jesus, the songs of traditional church, the Sunday school classes, I knew the general trek of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. One of my favorite movies (and still is) is the mini-series that came on NBC in 1979 and has been repeated many times since then, was Jesus of Nazareth. So, I knew the story. It was not like I was kid from a family that had not been to church in 2 or 3 generations and knew nothing at all of Jesus Christ. I knew the story but I did not know the faith, the life-transforming faith. To me, church was the family business. When church was open, we were there. Church was the topic of dinner table conversations. Church was everywhere for me. I became numb to it I guess. It was just not transformative to me. It was just the water in which my life was soaked. I considered myself a church-going Christian because…well…my dad was a preacher. How could I not be a Christian? In college though, my faith was shaken because it was so shallow to begin with. It made me question the validity of what I had heard and generally believed all my life.

After college, I had fashioned a Jesus Christ that was not so much the miracle man and Son of God that He really is but a radical philosopher. I had de-deified Him. He was a great man. The greatest of all time. He was a guy who changed the world with mere words and no army. I loved that about Him – a world changing radical rabbi who spoke of love and not hate, peace and not war. That was my Jesus, a cool dude that changed it all. I did not buy all the Son of God stuff. I thought of all the miracle stuff as fiction. I thought of all this Savior stuff and just one of the alternatives of many religions. I did not see him as He really is – the only way, the only truth and the only life. Besides, we Jesus being just a human that meant I could pick and choose what I wanted to believe that suited my lifestyle. Situational ethics and Jesus and me having a deal with each other allowed me to live in my favorite sins without having to change. It was not until I was 39 years old that I came to grips with my true state as a sinner before God and my need for forgiveness that can only be gained through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God in the flesh, Emmanuel.

If I fault my dad for anything, it would be that he did not challenge us about our faith. Whether it would have made any difference, I do not know. But my beliefs about Jesus Christ and Christianity were flawed and had no depth. It was on a shaky foundation. I just believed that I believed because I lived inside the church life. It was maybe an assumption of my dad that I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Maybe, he felt that it would be by osmosis that I would become a Christ follower. Maybe he spent so much of himself with his church people that when he got home he didn’t want to be a preacher. He just wanted to be Ralph Bowling, Jr. Sometimes, we have to not assume that our kids are getting it. Sometimes, we have to challenge them about their so-called faith. Just because you have them in church every Sunday does not mean that they “get it!” I am not mad at my dad by any means. Ultimately, I am responsible for my own standing before God. I cannot blame anyone for anything when I stand before God. I am responsible for how I responded to the gospel. Not my dad. Not my mom. Not my brother. Not my wife. Not my best friend. Not anybody. Just me.

That’s the thing that I thought about this morning is how as parents we may think that our kids will get this Christ follower thing by being in our mere presence. It is no guarantee. Just as just being in their life does not lead to discipline, we must act to raise them up right. So, too, we must challenge our kids to own their own faith. That thought pattern flowed through my head this morning as I read this passage about David’s continuing troubles with those darn kids of his. David was very hands-off and uninvolved when it came to his kids and he paid for it dearly throughout their adult lives. Let’s read the latest sad story in this series of sad stories when it comes to David and his kids:

5 About that time David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, began boasting, “I will make myself king.” So he provided himself with chariots and charioteers and recruited fifty men to run in front of him. 6 Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?” Adonijah had been born next after Absalom, and he was very handsome.

7 Adonijah took Joab son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest into his confidence, and they agreed to help him become king. 8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and David’s personal bodyguard refused to support Adonijah.

9 Adonijah went to the Stone of Zoheleth[a] near the spring of En-rogel, where he sacrificed sheep, cattle, and fattened calves. He invited all his brothers—the other sons of King David—and all the royal officials of Judah. 10 But he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the king’s bodyguard or his brother Solomon.

11 Then Nathan went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and asked her, “Haven’t you heard that Haggith’s son, Adonijah, has made himself king, and our lord David doesn’t even know about it? 12 If you want to save your own life and the life of your son Solomon, follow my advice. 13 Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, didn’t you make a vow and say to me, “Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ 14 And while you are still talking with him, I will come and confirm everything you have said.”

15 So Bathsheba went into the king’s bedroom. (He was very old now, and Abishag was taking care of him.) 16 Bathsheba bowed down before the king.

“What can I do for you?” he asked her.

17 She replied, “My lord, you made a vow before the Lord your God when you said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne.’ 18 But instead, Adonijah has made himself king, and my lord the king does not even know about it. 19 He has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited Abiathar the priest and Joab, the commander of the army. But he did not invite your servant Solomon. 20 And now, my lord the king, all Israel is waiting for you to announce who will become king after you. 21 If you do not act, my son Solomon and I will be treated as criminals as soon as my lord the king has died.”

22 While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. 23 The king’s officials told him, “Nathan the prophet is here to see you.”

Nathan went in and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 24 Nathan asked, “My lord the king, have you decided that Adonijah will be the next king and that he will sit on your throne? 25 Today he has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. They are feasting and drinking with him and shouting, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But he did not invite me or Zadok the priest or Benaiah or your servant Solomon. 27 Has my lord the king really done this without letting any of his officials know who should be the next king?”

In this passage, we see that even in his old age near death, David is still having to deal with his unruly children. This passage reminds us that God-fearing like David were used to lead nations. Nevertheless, he had problems in family relationships. God-fearing leaders cannot take for granted the spiritual well-being of their children. They cannot expect their children to manufacture faith upon request. Moral and spiritual character take years to build and it requires constant attention, patience and discipline.

We cannot simply assume by living next to our children that they will be like us. We cannot assume that by being an honest and hard working person that your kids will grow up to be the same way. We must actively teach them how to be responsible men and women who can operate in the world after they leave home. We must actively instill in them the work ethic, the morals, the fortitude, the stick-to-it-tiveness that is necessary to make in this world. We cannot assume that just watching us will do the trick.

The same is true with the faith of our children. They will not get it by osmosis. They will get it when we actively talk to them, teach them, using life lessons to teach the basics of our faith, to teach them what life was like for us before and after Jesus Christ. We must match our walk with our talk. We cannot just assume that they will pick up on it. We must teach them the reasonableness of our faith. We must teach them how to defend their faith. We must make our faith connect with their hearts AND their minds. We must teach them most of all that Christianity is not about do this and don’t do that. It is about a one-on-one relationship with a Savior, Jesus Christ.

We could extend that beyond our children to everyone we meet. We cannot assume that our neighbors and co-workers are going to be drawn to Christ by observing our actions. Maybe they will be intrigued by them but that will not challenge them. It may interest them but it will not change them. We must at some point actively get into the mess of our neighbors’ and co-workers’ lives and talk about the gospel when we have earned that right – to speak into their lives. They won’t just get it by being near you. You got to engage them with the gospel, challenge them with gospel, love them with the gospel.

Amen and Amen.

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