—Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (21 April, "Don't Hurt the Lord")
That's convicting and encouraging at the same time. Love that.
Of our current roster, only Jeremy was unable to attend Community Group last night. It felt great to be together with them. We studied Psalm 64. I asked them to wrestle with the fact that David never prays to understand his enemies; does this make him some kind of ignorant brute? By our standards, probably yes—when most of us face conflict, this is among the most highly-regarded responses. Many of us were brought up to believe that understanding the depths of another's heart is the key to reconciliation. Yet David, who clearly understands that his enemies' hearts are indeed deep (v. 6), petitions God for protection and judgement instead. Is he just ignorant?
A proposition in David's defense: he is completely identified with the purposes and Kingdom of God, particularly in his prayers. These enemies have set themselves against God and against David as His representative. That's not the kind of conflict most of us regularly encounter. This begs the question: why?
Even though we may be willing to give lip service to it, many of us don't functionally believe God's Kingdom has enemies like this, and if we do, we can only conceptualize them on a spiritual plane, not in flesh and blood. Yet when my group was pressed, we all admitted that we believe people like this do exist today; Janie brought up the fact that oppression and injustice continue to be rampant in our world. I submitted that, regardless of what we might be tempted to think, Christians must believe that God's Kingdom (and we as its representatives) is opposed by this world—Jesus notes that the world hates believers in His prayer for them (John 17:14-15), and if we don't believe that what Jesus prayed to the Father was true, we need to bag the whole thing.
So if the Kingdom has enemies of flesh and blood, and we as Christians are not coming in contact with them, where are we? Far from where David was. Though he was no stranger to sin—indeed, in him we see God's power and grace through a lifetime of mistakes—in prayer, his identification with God's Kingdom took precedence over his cramped personal dramas. Many of us are exactly the opposite. David never hesitated to ask for what he needed (in fact, much of what he asks for offends our sensibilities), but what he needed was very different, in large part because he was on the front line of the battle.
We have established that this battle continues. Where are we? Many of us don't know what it means to have enemies in this way because our lives are not actively identified with the Kingdom of God.