Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 23, Ezekiel 30, Psalm 78, Galatians 3.
“Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David.” 2 Samuel 23:16
This incident that happened in Alabama this week has bothered me. . . big time.
Not because it happened in Alabama.
Not because two men were shot in a UPS factory (though very tragic).
Not because the man who shot the two men turned the gun on himself (though also very tragic).
What bothers me is that this man was an active member of a local church. . . a local Southern Baptist church.
By active I mean in a Sunday School class, involved in various ministries, and obviously known (at least, in a general sense) by the pastors.
What bothers me is that the man who was fired by UPS, went to the factory and shot two fellow former employees before shooting himself was “known” to be a good, nice, involved-in-ministries guy.
What bothered me is that everyone was shocked that “he” would do such a thing.
What bothers me is that our churches are crawling with good, nice, involved-in-ministries people.
What bothers me is that that is the litmus test for a growing follower of Jesus.
I don’t in any way want to point fingers at anyone. This is more of a reflection of my own heart and situation and my own experiences in local Southern Baptist churches. For all I know, the church this man was a part of was and is doing everything exactly as it should be, biblically.
[Editor’s Note: Factor the above in when you read the following! Also, we should all pray for their church family and the pastors who will now be ministering in ways there never intended or expected to.]
I just wonder who knew this man’s heart?
Who knew he was fired?
Who knew he was angry?
Who knew he battled bitterness and jealousy?
Who knew he wasn’t – not only not witnessing to his coworkers – but angry at them?
Who knew that, though he was an “active” member of a church, his heart needed transformation?
Who was in his life, asking the hard questions, holding him accountable, encouraging him in the Lord, and helping him actually grow as a Christ follower?
[Editor’s Note – Please hear me: this may have all been happening at this church, okay? It is not this church’s fault! This kind of thing could just as easily happen at the church God has entrusted me to lead at this time.]
But I guess what really bothers me is that I hardly see this happening anywhere. I hardly see hearts checked. I hardly see loving confrontation between brothers and sisters. I hardly ever see accountability – not just from sins, but for doing what we are called to do. I hardly see any “professed” follower of Jesus being real with other “professed” followers of Jesus. I hardly see any Christians actually doing biblical life together.
I don’t see Christian men (not many, anyway) having a group of other “mighty men” around them to help them thrive as men of God.
I see men and women getting another Bible lesson (or two if you go to Sunday School), participate in a ministry (or two if you are really spiritual), and pray for those having surgery and missionaries on their birthdays. These things aren’t wrong. No, no, no, no, no. These things are fine.
What is wrong is not what is happening, per se.
What is wrong is what is NOT happening.
What is wrong is that no one’s hearts are being transformed and challenged and encouraged and affected. No one is looking more like Jesus today than they were this time last year. The things I listed above are great and biblical and fine. But who is doing Hebrews 10:24-27? “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
How can we know – really – how to encourage each other if we don’t know what is going on?
How can we know – really – how to help each other stop sinning deliberately if we don’t know what each others’ sins are?
In other words, how can we really apply these “one another” texts unless we really know one another?
Perhaps the guy in Alabama had all of this in his life. I hope he did.
But what bothers me is that I know how often I neglect intentionally having “mighty men” in my own life. What bothers me is that we church leaders (myself included!) haven’t helped things with the structure of how we help people make disciples. What bothers me is that there are probably “active” men in our churches who walk out and, maybe not go on a shooting rampage, but do go look at porn or abuse their families or numb themselves with television or a bigger vehicle. . . and no one is there to help them stop wasting their lives!
If no one knows our hearts and we aren’t consistently growing to look more like Jesus – why should anyone be shocked when our marriages fail or there is porn on our computers or when our children are bruised or when we go in major debt?
King David had some “mighty men” who helped him to succeed as King and a man of God.
Who do you have? We can fake our church family. But that’s not helping anyone, especially you. Who knows YOU? Who knows what is going on in your heart and can put you on a biblically sound trajectory? Who can you ask today to be real with you and confront you and encourage you and help you look more like Jesus?
It’s not good for man to be alone.