Live a Life of Contrast
- Mary Southerland Journey Ministry, Inc
- 2022 1 Apr
Every Christ-follower is called to live a life of contrast because normal isn't working. Who wants to be normal when God has so much more for us? No one is going to want our Jesus until they want our lives. We are called to be different and live a life of contrast. The throne of God is filled with grace, as is His presence.
We live in a culture that does everything we can to mask our flaws. We live in a society consumed with competitiveness and has a cut-throat environment. We do whatever it takes to advance. We walk over whoever is in our way for the promotion. We crush our political enemies online with articles and memes. Our society has ZERO grace for one another.
But God's kingdom is about grace and offering forgiveness to others. The life of David is a perfect illustration of how God's grace impacts a life. David was still in the early years of being King. And just like many current-day kings and presidents, he was wrapping up some of the loose ends he inherited from his predecessor. The cultural norm is to go in and change everything you did not like about the King or president before you. That was not David's approach. He exercised grace. He had returned the most sacred national treasure - the ark of the covenant - to Jerusalem. He killed the giant, but he spared their King after conquering the opposing army. He was outdoing everything Saul did. He was making what Saul did right. Our Scripture today shows grace being poured out from the throne room of David.
One day David asked, "Is anyone in Saul's family still alive – anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?" He summoned a man named Ziba, who had been one of Saul's servants."
"Are you Ziba?" the King asked. 'Yes, sir, I am,' Ziba replied. The King then asked him, 'Is anyone still alive from Saul's family? If so, I want to show God's kindness to them.'"
"Ziba replied, 'Yes, one of Jonathan's sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.' 'Where is he?' the King asked. 'In Lo-debar,' Ziba told him." (From 2 Samuel 9:1-4)
Characters in the Story of David
The first character is Saul. He was chosen to be the first King of Israel. He began with great promise. But Saul had two deep character flaws: pride and jealousy. Over time his pride and envy took over, and he began seeking out sorcerers - fortune-tellers - for direction instead of going to God. At this time, God's spirit left Saul and God chose the teenage shepherd boy David as the next King.
Saul eventually tried to chase David down and kill him because of his jealousy. Ultimately Saul died on the battlefield - a tragic end to someone who began with such promise.
The second character you need to know is Jonathan. Johnathan was the firstborn son of Saul and, therefore, in line to be the next King. Instead of resenting David for it, they became best friends. Johnathan discovered his father's plot to kill David so he could win the throne and went to warn David, knowing it would mean he would never be King.
"At last Jonathan said to David, 'Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord's name. The Lord is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.'" (1 Samuel 20:24)
These two best friends would not see each other alive again. Not long after, both Saul and Johnathan would die in battle.
Our third and final character is Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth is a terrible name to begin with. He was the Son of Johnathan and Grandson of King Saul. When King Saul and Prince Johnathan died, Mephibosheth was next in line to be King. But Mephibosheth wasn't interested. He had a disability in his spine and was unable to walk. He knew no one would respect him as King back then, so he just ran away and hid. Mephibosheth went to a town called Lo-debar (which translates to "No-Thing," sort of like Nothing Ville. He was in hiding because he knew that some would see him as a threat to David's new throne as long as he was alive. How many days did he sit in his home wondering if today would be the day the King's guard found him? We don't know exactly how it happened, but the King's chariots showed up at Mephibosheth's house one day. A tall solder suited in the Kings Guard armor came walking in and said the words Mephibosheth has feared for so long. "The King wants to see you."
On the ride to the palace, I can only imagine what Mephibosheth was thinking. What is King David going to do with me? Will it be a quick death to make sure David has won the Game of Thrones? Or will it be a slow, painful, and very public death to make me an example of those who threaten his throne? Mephibosheth was brought into the throne room of David, where a large audience stood on either side of him.
"When Mephibosheth came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, "Greetings, Mephibosheth.' Mephibosheth replied, 'I am your servant.' 'Don't be afraid!' David said. 'I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the King's table!'"
"Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, 'Who is your servant that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?'
Then the King summoned Saul's servant Ziba and said, 'I have given your master's grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for your master's household.
But your master's grandson, Mephibosheth, will eat here at my table.' (Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
Ziba replied, 'Yes, my lord the king; I am your servant, and I will do all that you have commanded.' And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David's table, like one of the King's own sons." (2 Samuel 9:6-11)
Mephibosheth saw himself as a worthless man with a disability, hiding in "Nowhere-Ville" and calling himself "Dead-dog." But David saw his best friend's son and wanted to honor their promise to care for each other's family. The society norm would have been to kill Mephibosheth as a competitor for the throne. So instead, David made him an honorary member of his own family, eating at his table. Like the throne of God, this story is filled with grace in a graceless time. David lived a grace-filled life while those around him were out for revenge.
What Can We Learn from This Story?
Two groups of people and two applications emerge in this story. Which group are you in? Which application has your name on it?
The first group is those who run from God.
You've been a fugitive of the King of Kings. On the run and hiding for fear of what might happen to you. But I'm here to tell you that you don't need to hide anymore. King Jesus is offering his invitation to you today of grace and forgiveness if you will admit your need for him. Mephibosheth ran from God, living in fear and shame because of his family and disability. You can run, but you cannot hide forever. Check out how Jesus promises to pursue us:
"I came to seek and to save those who are lost." (Luke 19:10)
If you have been hiding from God today, where can you hide that he won't find you? If you have been running from God today, aren't you tired of running? Choose to stop running and receive God's grace to you. The same grace David offered Mephibosheth, Jesus is offering you today and more. Because our sin separates us from God. But Jesus gave his life for us that we might be made whole and eat at the King's table. We can say YES to Jesus today. Jesus wants you to come to Him just as you are. Saying yes to Jesus is giving everything you know about yourself to whatever you know about Jesus. You don't have to fix anything or get your act together to come to Jesus. Just come as you are. Receive him. Receive his grace.
The second group is those who pursue anyone who is running from God.
David was a man who pursued God. He pursued Mephibosheth, a man running and trying to hide from God.
This group of people: Has already received the grace of King Jesus. Take the message of grace and forgiveness to others who need it. Go to the Lo-Debar's (Nothing-Villes) of your workplace, school, and community. Deliver this message of hope and forgiveness to those who desperately need to know they have been invited to the King's table. They want to help people find their way back to God because they have found their way back to God. So, when we have good news - we share it! We share it with anyone who will listen, especially those far from God, caught in their shame. We are committed to changing the spiritual landscape of our everyday communities.
Sharing Jesus with others is one sinner telling another sinner where to find grace. Sharing Jesus with others is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. We all need to receive God's grace. We all need to share God's grace with others. This world needs all of God's grace it can get!
We are all runners. Which is your group of runners today? Running and hiding from God. Running after those who are hiding from God.
My answer? Both groups. I have run from God. I have tried to hide from God. And he found me and covered my life with grace. Now I pursue those who are hiding from God. How about you?
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/natasaadzic
Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.