Power, complacency and sending – Implications from David and Bathsheba for church life

“I would never do what David did … I would never be unfaithful, take advantage of someone else, use violence against a rival.” That’s what our minds tell us isn’t it. We see David’s sin in terms of the extreme actions. We compare ourselves to him and we feel better about ourselves.

Seeing the underlying attitudes and actions that led to adultery and murder however may get us to stop and think carefully about our own lives. At this point we do well to remember Jesus’ take on The Law, that heart attitudes matter as much as outward actions.

So, I was thinking a little more about how David settles into a role where he sits back and sends and summons.  When he should have been in the thick of it, leading from the front, he was taking it easy, letting others do the hard work and the dirty work for him.

We should be careful that we do not adopt that posture in church life. The church is described as many things in the Bible: a royal priesthood, God’s army engaged in spiritual warfare, the family. household of God, the bride etc. However, it is not described as a consumer event where we sit back to watch others perform and work for us.

We must watch that we do not see others out their doing the work of the Gospel whilst we take it easy. If other believers are out on the front line then they are vulnerable.  Now, we need to treat this with care because a lot of visible gospel work is what happens from church buildings in terms of weekly ministries and many (if not most of us) will not be able to get involved at those times due to work commitments.  The answer is not to drift into guilt about this and regret having paid work that keeps us away from “the real work.” Instead:

          Remember that the whole of life is where spiritual warfare happens and our daily work gives us opportunities both to worship and honour God and to witness for Christ. So first all, adopt a heart attitude that sees your work and home life as not private time but part of your service for him. Take time to pray about what you will be doing in the week. Share news of what is happening in your home group so you can pray for one another.

          As churches we need to train and equip people for everyday church life so that they are able to use opportunities in the workplace, with neighbours and at the school gate.  We need to get away from the mentality that Gospel work is done through church building based activities alone.

          However, those opportunities that happen through church buildings including toddlers’ groups, youth clubs, Christianity Explored courses etc do matter too. They are also about using opportunities in a community to meet people who may not have contact with other Christians.  Often responsibility falls on one or two people to make these things happen, a couple of young mums and then some older retired people, do we allow them to become isolated and vulnerable on their front line?  If so, how can we avoid this? First of all all, we can pray for them and encourage them. Secondly, we can show a deep and genuine interest in their ministry. Thirdly, there is often a lot of hard work, heavy lifting, moving and cleaning to do. It distracts from conversations and it wearies those involved.  We can move from sitting and sending to actively participating by offering to help with this. You don’t have to be present when the ministry happens to have helped by setting up the night before or clearing away the evening after.

          Finally, what is your approach to gathering for worship? Do you arrive early ready to pray, help set up, welcome etc as part of the team or do you turn up at the last minute ready to sit and be served?