A little Saul inside us all.
I want to start off today with a question: Raise your hand if you have read the entire Bible . . . cover to cover . . . Genesis to Revelation . . . genealogies, cubits, and all.
OK, I can't see your hands, so I guess you'll just have to comment and tell me. But, if you haven't, or if you have but it's been a while, you need to get with the program. I'm not a big fan of the "instruction manual for life" rhetoric that people often attach to the Bible, that's just too fluffy. The Bible isn't a marshmallow. But it is important. Not because it will help you live the easiest, sweetest, cheesiest little gumdrop life, but because it's the Word of God, and I don't think the Word of God is something to be neglected.
A few months ago I stumbled on Professor Horner's Bible Reading System. It's not a read through the bible in a year type thing, it's a new approach to studying Scripture all together. And, it's great. I'm not a good explainer, so just check it out here.
Like I said I've been using it for a couple of months. 80 days to be exact. And yesterday's reading included 1 Samuel 28. I really struggle when I read some of the Old Testament texts, with determining how these things really apply to us today. What's really relevant about this in my life? And as I've been reading through this time my prayer has been, "God make this real to me. Show me the value, show me what you want me to take away from this text."
I don't want to read just for the sake of reading, and quoting, and being able to raise my hand when someone asks me if I've read it. No, I want to understand it, so I can fall in love with it. I got a little whisper of understanding yesterday when I was reading about Saul. Let's look first at the text.
"Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put mediums and necromancers out of the land." (vs 3)
So, here we see Ol' Boy Saul laying down the law and cutting the chord on the Psychic Friends Hotline. Latoya and her buddies are out of work, and they're probably fearing for their lives, all on Saul's command. Moving on:
"The Philistines assembled and came and ecamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets." (4-6)
I can just picture Saul as he's frantically seeking a word from God. If this was a movie this would be the part when the sun disappeared from the sky and it started to rain. Not just a little rain, Forrest Gump style sideways rain! I imagine Saul would be a pitiful looking spectacle as he curled up in fetal position and tried to sort through his woes. But then, in his darkest hour, we see a light bulb!
"Then Saul said to his servants, 'Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.'" (vs 7)
There it is, the moment of truth. The moment when I realize that there's a little Saul inside us all. Only a few verses ago we see Saul giving Latoya the boot, only to turn around and beckon her back when things get personal. Suddenly it's he who has a need. So his cronies fetch her from En-dor (although it doesn't actually say that her name was Latoya, I feel sure that it was).
Next thing we know Saul's putting on a disguise and going to meet the medium. And he says to her:
"'Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.' The woman said to him, 'Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?' But Saul swore to her by the LORD, 'As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come up on you for this thing.'" (vs 8-10)
Oh snap! I'll leave you to read the rest of the text, but basically Latoya bring Samuel up and realizes that her desperate customer is actually Saul, the same guy who had just robbed her of her livelihood. An interesting turn of events I'd say. But here's what I want to focus on: Saul's public convictions versus Saul's private convictions.
Our public convictions . . . versus . . . our private convictions.
This is where the rubber meets the road, Folks. Our Christian lives are not defined by what we think and feel and do when we're on the mountaintops. I mean, that stuff is great, but it's in the valley that the true colors come through. It's when your faith is put to the test that we see what it's really made of.
It's when an unwanted pregnancy is at your doorstep that your position on abortion will truly show. Sure, you have the bumper sticker and the voting record to prove that you're a passionate Pro-Lifer. It's plastered all over your Facebook page. Except, now it's your daughter who's life will never be the same. Now it's your son who's bright future is now shaded. Now it's you whose plans are being thwarted.
How is your resolve when the issue is on your doorstep?
It was easy for Saul to be bold from afar, but things always change when our personal lives are affected.
We can apply this to a great many things, but I'm not going to drag it out. I'm not trying to imply that I don't believe you when you say you feel a certain way, but I think we could use a little ego-check. We need to stop looking down from our mountaintops and shaming those who are in the valley. Instead, we need to learn love. We need to learn to extend grace rather than judgement. And we need to realize that our Christian lives aren't meant to be played out simply at surface level. It's meant to reach down into the depths.
Our zeal in private should always outshine our zeal in public.
We have to drop this mindset that it's the one who screams the loudest who believes the most. I think we should try this on for size:
"A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back."
Yeah, how do you like them apples? Tough to swallow, I know. But think about it. The fool is the one who spends his time and effort trying to convince the world of his faith and convictions.
The wise man just lives it.
I want to be a wise man, err, woman. I don't want to be hoarse with futile shouting, I want to be exhausted from a fulfilling life. How about you?
So, here's what you tell me if you're read the Bible in its entirety. In addition, do you see a little bit of Saul in you? What are some areas where you think our public convictions don't line up with our private convictions?
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 and is filed under Allegiance,Culture,Faith,LOVE,Scripture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.