…because the Lord Almighty was with him.”
What do you put your hope in? What do you have faith in? What do you believe in? What thing, if you have it, puts your life in order? What thing, if you were to lose it, would cause your life to unravel and deconstruct? The Israelites thought they had a King. They thought they had a savior who would protect and bless them. Then, abruptly, that King was taken from them. The absence of this King left a void that the Israelites were forced to look into.
The loss of something we love causes us to ask questions. We ask ourselves, “Why is this loss so painful?” “Why do I miss it so much?” “Why do I feel incapable of moving on?” “What will I do without it?”
When we face loss, our most honest and sincere feelings are revealed. When seeking answers to our reaction we often find uncomfortable truths: that our love for what we lost was unnaturally great and what we loved was naturally finite.
To know God as HE is and to love Him for who He is we must lose something. We must take the thing we treasure the most and let it go. We must begin to see the things in our lives in their natural order. Our love for people is naturally beautiful, but our faith in them is destructively irrational. We love things, but a love for a mere thing that cannot love us in return is illogically unreasonable.
But ultimately, what we must lose is neither a person nor a thing. We must understand that the love of self is the greatest opponent to the love of God in our lives. The truth is that without Jesus Christ we are lost, sheep without a shepherd. We will find temporary success, but only a success that is fleeting and painful to lose. In Jesus Christ there is no loss, except for the loss of the one thing that could never truly give you anything in the first place. In Jesus Christ we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and in Jesus Christ we are no longer investing in a losing battle. With Jesus Christ, the loss of our self is the painful first step to a life where our treasure is Christ, and to know Him is gain. With Jesus Christ we have a King that has already won the victory. Through faith in His life, death and resurrection, that same victory is ours and we can and will overcome.
4But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here…”
Religion requires works that overlook a need for the sake of a score. The Gospel requires personal sacrifice that creates a heart for the stranger for the sake of Jesus Christ. In many ways, religion is easier. We can understand scores. We can understand a checklist. What’s difficult for us to comprehend is an open-ended demand for love. We respond with quantifying questions: “Love who? How much love? When should I love?” This is because our sinful natures are not able to love naturally, increasingly, daily. Trying to love that way is like holding our breath underwater until we can break the surface and breathe the oxygen we were made for. But the love of God demands the love of God. Period. The first victory is the realization that we are totally incapable of that demand and therefore need God every step of the way. As much as God wants us to turn to Jesus and rely on him for everything, sin also has a passion for redirecting our attention away from Jesus and back onto ourselves, leaving us more likely to seek our own righteousness through a list we can follow as opposed to a task that we know we would fail at.
The Gospel always sees a specific need over a specific rule. Is someone naked? Give them clothes. Is someone hungry? Give them food. Is someone homeless? Give them a home. Is someone sad? Give them a hug. These are the standards of Jesus and His Gospel and therefore must be the instinct of a person claiming identity in Christ and calling themselves a Christian. A Christian does not ask for papers first and then serves second. A Christian professes faith in the Suffering Servant and is remade in His image. Not as a leader. Not as a King. Not as anything but a servant. When we realize that our sensitivity to the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters is being overshadowed by our status, our system or our score we must pray that the Holy Spirit convict us of our religiosity and reclaim us in the name of Jesus for the sake of Jesus as a disciple of Jesus. Actions always speak louder than words, and when our actions glorify ourselves we are no longer servants, no longer disciples and no longer Christians.