READ: 1 Samuel 13-15, Psalm 85, John 17, Ephesians 6
Spiritually Pugnacious: Jonathan is my all-time favorite Bible character. I love him for many things, not least of which is his glad desire to abdicate the throne for his buddy from the poor side of town. Jonathan didn’t want to sit on the throne; he wanted to fight someone. Somehow we have accrued this image of Jonathan as a little effeminate while David was the warrior. I think, in fact, that Jonathan was the scrapper. It was Jonathan who provokes the Philistines by attacking them with only 1,000 men. It was Jonathan who told his armor bearer: “If they say ‘wait’, we will fight them down here. If they say ‘come up!’ we will fight them up there” (1 Sam. 14:9-10). Jonathan had pre-decided to fight. It was not a matter of “if,” the only question was “where.” “It may be the Lord will work for us,” he tells his armor bearer, and off they climb to take on superior odds. God wants to instill that fighting spirit in us. Let us determine that it is not a matter of “if,” it is just a matter of “where.” This was the belief of Hudson Taylor in frontier mission – to fight for unreached peoples is academic; the only deliberation is where Jesus wants us to do that. And let’s end like Jonathan did – swinging the sword to the end. Jonathan never lost his fighting spirit.
Spiritually Passionate: We often think of Samuel (because we are introduced to him as a little son of gentle Hannah) as soft as well. Samuel was anything but stoic. He grieves and cries all night over Saul (1 Sam. 15:11), then he tells Saul to “shut up” (v. 16)! He picks up a sword and hacks Agag into pieces (v. 33) then he retreats out of public service and mourns for Saul (v. 35). This is not your meek little shepherd. Samuel rockets to the extremes of passion: grief and tenderness to violent zeal and action. In God, and in God’s representatives, mercy and truth must meet (Psalm 85:8). Mercy without truth corrupts; truth without mercy kills. We are not created to be neutral. Our balance comes through passion timely applied in opposite directions.
Spiritually Prioritized: Paul is often imagined as a small framed intellectual who wasn’t good at sports so he retreated to his books and ended up a genius. He may or may not have been able to bash an Agag to death with a rolled up Torah, but he could sure take a punch. Whatever his physical stature he was single-minded in spirit. In Ephesians 6:18, he exhorts his disciples to “keep on praying in the Spirit.” Why? Because Paul wanted to speak “boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20). Paul’s priority was church planting. He focused on preaching and teaching in order to make disciples. He gathered these disciples in churches, appointed elders, and kept moving. Paul felt compelled (Woe is me if I preach not the gospel!), burdened, bound to open his mouth at great cost to his person, in order to verbally proclaim the gospel. This was his priority and passion, and for it he paid every price.
Jesus wants us to be intense. Following Jesus is not for the balanced – not if balance means timidity and not if a sum zero effect cancels out complimentary truths. Let embrace the fullness of a radical allegiance to Jesus in all things.