When I first wrote about handling the difficult Bible passages in 2 Samuel about David, Bathsheba, Amnon, Absalom and Tamar, I identified 3 types of person in the narrative. The first two are
Culprits – who are causing harm to others through their sin and carry specific guilt.
Victims – who are hurt by the sin of others often subjected to shame and a sense of defilement.
However, I don’t want us to lose sight of the third category. There are those we identified as faithful servants. These are people seeking to be obedient to God and faithful to his word and promises even in the face of intense provocation.
In this group I would particularly include Nathan the prophet who takes a risk in going to challenge David about his sin. Uriah also seeks to act faithfully when David calls him back from the battle line acting out of respect both for his colleagues on the front line and the Ark of the Covenant.
Tamar too is both victim and a faithful servant who even in the face of Amnon’s onslaught speaks up for what is right and good. Her concern is not just for her own well-being but even for Amnon’s reputation too.
It is important to remember that day to day, many believers are seeking to serve God faithfully. They know that crude talk, intimidation, manipulation, pornography, sexual harassment and unfaithfulness are wrong and they seek to live in obedience to Christ.
It is also to remember that this description of faithfulness is not about perfection. It does not mean that you have never succumbed to temptation or never will. Indeed, I most believers will be deeply aware of their own failings and fallings. Rather, they know that it is only through Christ’s death and resurrection that they are saved, they have received a righteousness which is not their own, through faith. They also want to grow in Christ.
- To culprits
Listen up because there are people in the church who by their words and deeds challenge you. Don’t ignore the people that God puts into your life to call you to repentance. Don’t be surprised if they cause you to feel uncomfortable. Don’t try to bully them into silence. God is using them to warn you.
- To victims
I notice that alongside the #MeToo campaign is the #NotAllMen slogan. There is a risk here that this becomes a slogan to silence the challenge and to dull our consciences so that we fail to recognise our responsibility for each other. However, the other risk is that when everyone is demonised, the world becomes a frightening and lonely place. We may prefer not to use the #NotAll … hashtag because of concerns about who is using it and why. However, we can also remember God’s encouragement to Elijah that there were still 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal.
We live in a fallen world and we worship in imperfect churches where there are bullies and abusers. But we are also part of churches where God is at work in people’s lives, transforming them into his likeness. You are part of a family with other believers who are not perfect, who still fail and may even let you down. However, they are family, they are not the enemy. Don’t give up on each other, don’t give up on church.
- To the “faithful servants”
Keep on keeping on. At times you will want to give up, it will feel like faith will fail, you will wonder if it is worth it. Remember that:
-You are in Christ. It is he that holds onto you and it is he that has promised to keep you safe into eternity.
– Beware of pride. Don’t give up putting to death the flesh.
– Keep looking forward in hope – the day of Christ’s return is nearer now than at any time.