“It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.”
II Samuel 11:1 NKJV
I recently attended a specially called meeting in Dallas, TX. by Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council in response to the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage and its effect on religious liberty. I have always appreciated FRC and their Watchmen on the Wall briefings and heart to help get pastors engaged in the challenges of our culture. They provide a needed voice for Christian values in the civil arena.
This meeting was different than previous briefings. I was pleasantly surprised to see that more pastors were speaking than para-church and political leaders. There was a different tone, in my opinion, from the shepherds. A needed tone. It was the sound of an impending war. Not a war of carnal agendas and weapons, but rather a war of worldviews and direction. It’s not that those in attendance were not aware that cultural battles had been raging for decades in our nation. It was an epiphany that every battle from this point forward may be the one to determine the outcome of the greater war and the question that was asked was…Will you run to the battle?
The text preceding this article is one concerning David. You remember David don’t you? The man it was said was “after God’s heart”. So many accolades could be ascribed to King David. He led Israel to it’s zenith as a nation. He was at the apex of his influence and leadership. The kingdom was operating seamlessly and “hitting on all cylinders”. God was good and the good times were rolling.
But suddenly the season changed.
It became a season of war. David either didn’t “get it” or didn’t like it. He decided to hold the fort in Jerusalem rather than run to the battle which was God’s design and purpose for leaders and kings. It is the introduction of a painful chapter in both David’s life and the nation of Israel.
Seasons have changed in America.
The previous season was a time of great favor for the Church. The landscape testifies to it with mega-churches on seemingly every corner. We saw influential pastors arise and rub shoulders with celebrities and the upper-crust of the culture. Christians invaded television and media. Politicians sought our influence and advocated for our values. Our churches operated as seamlessly as Fortune 500 companies and our size and scope appeared to be without boundary.
But the season changed.
The adversaries of the Lord have gathered for war. Their eyes, much like the Philistines, are on capturing the nation.
The question is, “Will our leaders run to the battle -or- hold the fort?” Will we simply tend to our “Jerusalems” or will we face the adversaries? Are we content with well-oiled palaces or are we passionate about God’s purposes for a nation?
It’s now the time when leaders, dare I say pastors, go to battle. It’s a time when pastors must step out of the comfort of their kingdoms to step into battles for God’s purposes in their communities and nation. It is not optional. It is divine order.
Yes…that is a legitimate interpretation and application of the above text. In fact, there are FIVE important points we can derive from that text for pastors engaging the cultural battles we are facing:
1. Recognize the Season
What more has to be said or done to reveal that there is an ever increasing hostility towards the Christian faith happening nationally and globally? I understand that the Scripture clearly teaches that these things will always be so, but there is no teaching that as Christians we passively accept that adversity. In fact, there is ample reference to Kingdom virtues such as “courage”, “boldness”, and, as Paul said in Ephesians 6:12, “standing”. This is the season we are in and it is the time for pastors to get to the battlefields of worldviews and engage our opponents. David, apparently, missed the shift in seasons and found himself lounging in his palace rather than leading on the battlefield.
2. Understand Your Assignment
David fell into the trap of the “CEO-King”. He either missed some important lessons in leadership or he was choosing to ignore them. Leadership has it’s perks. No one would argue that point. Visibility and celebrity brings adoration and resource. However, visibility and leadership also entail responsibility. There are moments the leader has to shift from reading pie-graphs, charts, and profit/loss sheets to suiting up and showing the people how a battle is to be waged. Pastors need to understand that this season demands their leadership and visibility on the field of contest as well as in the pulpit. Teaching God’s precepts is vital. Demonstrating the courage on what that looks like in the civil arena of challenge is critical. Just as prophets had need to enter throne rooms and address kings on the issues that were facing the nation so it is time for pastors to enter the halls of legislatures and address the rulers of our communities, state, and nation as to what the Lord is saying.
3. Some Things Cannot be Delegated
Great leaders delegate. Great leaders also know when not to delegate. David sent Joab his trusted servant to the battlefield. No doubt that Joab was a great fighter, maybe even better than David, but that is not the point. There are some things that simply demand the leaders presence. Why are movies like Braveheart, Patton, Selma, and silly summer movies like Independence Day popular? It’s because the leader is leading into battle. The people need to see their leaders on the front lines occasionally. Everyone understands that pastors have a myriad of responsibilities which demand their attention; but some things need to be modeled. Some things need the shepherds voice. Some things need a visible demonstration of courage. You cannot delegate boldness on the field.
4. Holding the Fort will Lose the Fort
David didn’t lose the kingdom the day he decided to skip the battle, however, a case could be made that a trajectory was put in place that ultimately divided the kingdom and eventually lost it. Passivity never wins wars.
Years ago I was on a potential state championship high school baseball team. We had phenomenal talent but had entered into a protracted losing streak. As a team we would score numerous runs in the early innings but ultimately lose the game in the late innings. The coach pulled us aside after a number of losses and in his most exercised and aggravated voice began yelling at us. (You could do that in those days and parents didn’t care.) He said these profound words…“You boys are great ball players. You have all the tools and skills to be state champions. Your problem is that instead of playing to win, you play NOT TO LOSE.” That encapsulates the American Church.
We are too busy trying to be liked rather than trying to fulfill God’s purposes. Many pastors believe that accommodating the cultural trends will somehow cause the Church to be more relevant and enlarged when in fact the exact opposite is true. When we scramble to play defense and simply minimize our losses we are losing our influence by installment.
5. Disengaging Produces Other Problems
Avoiding battlefields can produce ancillary problems. David would have never seen Bathsheba had he been in the battle rather than sunning on his roof. I wonder how many of the 400+ Christian leaders who resigned after the Ashley Madison security breach would still have their ministries if they simply would have engaged the culture on the battlefield of worldviews instead of surfing the internet?
At this exact moment there is a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, who is making a stand by not issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Today, she was invaded by people from all over the state who descended upon her office with media close behind to intimidate her with regards to her religious conscience. Perhaps she had some support on site, but from the raw video I cannot say that I saw any. There should have been 500 pastors on site who ran to the battle and simply said, “We support this woman”. I want to encourage all who may read this to ask yourself a question, “Would your pastor run to the battle? Would he run to YOUR battle?” Or would he would be in the palace making sure the kingdom was running at optimum efficiency?
A.W. Tozer once said,
God is hiding His heroes and the day will arrive when they will appear and the world will wonder where they came from.
Today is that day.