Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Absalom at the Gate

Absalom was the son of King David. He led a rebellion in Israel by giving audience to discontented people and undermining his father's authority. He stood in the gate of the city (where people gathered in the shade to talk) and spread discontent by telling all who would listen to him that he could do a better job than his father David. 2 Samuel 15:6 says he “….stole the hearts of the men of Israel.”

After Absalom gathered enough followers to lead a rebellion he did so. It led to his ruin. The entire sordid affair is recorded in 2 Samuel 15 through chapter 18.

In church work, a man who will lead a rebellion has already proven, no matter how lofty and spiritual his words are, that he has a critical nature, an unprincipled character, and hidden motives in his heart. Frankly, he is a thief. He creates dissatisfaction and tension within a congregation and attempts to seize power or either siphons off followers. He attempts to plunder a congregation not his own. The followers he gets, he uses for his own purposes and ego. Such a sorry beginning, built on the foundation of divisions, is sure to be bitter. God never honors division.

This is never acceptable in any field of endeavor – not in business, family or church life. This is such a grievous offence in the business world that if an employee committed this he or she would be immediately terminated, and in some instances even be brought up on legal charges (and maybe even face jail time). In God’s kingdom it is even more distasteful and galling. The commandments “Thou shalt NOT STEAL”… and “Thou shalt NOT COVET anything that is thy neighbors” (Exodus 20:13; 17) have broad application. God never honors a thief.

I find it very curious that men who feel qualified to cause division in another’s vineyard do not feel capable of going somewhere else to plant their own vineyard. No, they must steal from another. They are unable to start a work of their own unless they have a few pre-packaged followers – followers who are usually born, bred, and discipled in the very vineyard they are stealing from. This is the height of cowardice and hypocrisy - not to mention a lack of faith.

Beginning empty-handed and alone with no guarantee of success frightens the best of men. But those who do are the ones who are sure of God’s call on their life. These are the caliber of men who quit their jobs, risk everything, and put their faith into practice. For them it’s not theory – they LIVE it.
When these men speak their words have authority – and God blesses the ministry.

If a person believes he/she has a genuine call on their life for ministry, church leadership, or to be a pastor, why not simply walk quietly away and plant the ministry they envision? Why not ask to be sponsored and have a legitimate launch? Why must they underhandedly pick fruit from someone else’s vineyard?

Men who lead rebellions and cause divisions in God’s kingdom are unfit for leadership. There are no exceptions.