Monday, April 11, 2011
Jonathan and David
"the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul... And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his belt." - Samuel 18.
Not too long ago, I heard a speaker explain this passage and it stirred a deep longing in me. It stirred a longing for brotherhood and communion and a longing for authenticity. It stirred up desires like a shoulder to cry on and for a brother to kiss without shame.
The speaker was saying that what Jonathan did, in disrobing, giving his armor, sword and belt to David, was in essence saying "Hear I am, I have made myself vulnerable for you, for I love you. Here are all the tools of my strength, they are yours."
I've had months and months to reflect on the action of Jonathan, and it just came up again in my reading. During my months of reflection, I've had many opportunities to follow in Jonathan's footsteps and allow others into my life by laying down my armor. It's brought about a profound change in my life. A change that I've longed for and a change that I welcome. For I am growing now in my understanding of what it means to be and experience Christ in my brothers.
Growing up in my family I have been blessed with tender and joyful relationships with my siblings, and they have proved to be the frame from which I've sought to find and be a brother in the church. I am so indebted to them. Their love for me really knows no bounds (unless I'm reaching for the last cookie - some things are beyond relationship).
But as I reflect on Jonathan's action, my siblings and my recent experience, I can't help but think that many, many, many church-goers are missing the familial connection that is church. Many step into our holy huddles on Sundays and feel nothing but isolated and different.
I know this because I've felt it. I dress up for church, not down. I even bring my weapons to church. And rather than loosening my belt for the feast of fellowship and homecoming, I tighten it for battle.
How I wish this weren't the case. My heart is so critical towards the church and this dynamic. Of course it's critical for many of the wrong reasons. And my heart is critical towards the very individuals who need me to be like Jonathan to them. In great irony, rather than following in his steps, I jab at them with the sword of my "vulnerable" superiority. Even my "authenticity" feeds the pride that knows no bounds in my soul.
But Jesus brings me hope. He knows what it's like to lay down power. His action goes beyond my pea-brained comprehension and up into heavenly realities. His was infinite emptying of power and glory. If Jesus resides in me today, I too can be for others a ray of hope in the ego-driven world I live in. I too can find the power to let go of power, the peace to fight for souls and the joy to enter into sadness.
There is within me a deep desire to connect, to be Jesus to others and to establish friendships that involve such self-emptying. Unfortunately, my instinct for self-preservation is frantically trying to stifle this desire. It's a desire to love. And it's a desire to risk and live. But my instinct doesn't want any part of it.
Jesus wants more for me. He's prying my clenching fists off my sword, teaching me grace and feeding me with his life. I'm learning that the tiniest actions are the most profound, the smallest gestures the oasis filled with the water of life. And he's showing me that ego takes a pounding in the life of a Christ follower.
In randomly musing about all of this, I write about realities far, far above me. But even as I do, in realization of the gap between me and the me I want to be, there is a God who I simply cannot stop, a God who's doing for this child things that I've only ever dreamed about.
I've been drawn into a kingdom, and I serve a mighty and unstoppable king, who will bring his light, justice and mercy to the nations. Go ahead ego, just try stopping that.