Monday, March 4, 2013

Do not be surprised by your "brother's" reaction - Guest Post by Stan Albright

If you spend much time talking with me, you will find out quickly that I am a huge history buff. I am extremely interested in the American Revolution and the American Civil War. Mention either of these subjects to me and you will be in for a lengthy and passionate conversation.

A Revolutionary War character that has always enchanted me is Major General Benedict Arnold. He was a soldier that lived out two lives, one as a hero and one as a traitor. It was once said of Arnold that, "As an American officer no general was more imaginative, no field officer more daring, no soldier more courageous." You can find a "boot" monument at the Saratoga National Military Park with the following inscription, "In memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental army, who was desperately wounded on this spot, winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution, and for himself the rank of Major General." Yet, no mention of the name for who it was erected . . . it was Benedict Arnold.

Three years after the Battle of Saratoga, Arnold would be leading devastating attacks against the nation for which he had valiantly fought. Why, you may ask? That question may be best answered by James Henretta when he wrote, "In the end, Benedict Arnold's moral failure lay not in his disenchantment with the American cause for many other officers returned to civilian life disgusted with the decline in republican virtue and angry over their failure to win a guaranteed pension from Congress. Nor did his infamy stem from his transfer of allegiance to the British side, for other Patriots chose to become Loyalists, sometimes out of principle but just as often for personal gain. Arnold's perfidy lay in the abuse of his position of authority and trust: he would betray West Point and its garrison, and if necessary, the entire American war effort to secure his own success. His treason was not that of a principled man but that of a selfish one . . ."

Those last words of Henretta, "His treason was not that of a principled man but that of a selfish one," send chills in my soul. How many times have we allowed our own personal selfishness to lead us down a path of disobedience and ultimate failure? Such was the case in the life of a man named, Eliab.

In 1 Samuel 17:28, we are introduced to David's oldest brother. Eliab was a man, by means of his birth order, who was in line to receive the "king's portion" of his father's inheritance. Yet, with this privilege came huge responsibility. He was to be the first to stand up and defend his family, and his nation, if anyone would dare to threaten. Eliab was to be a living example to his younger siblings. They were to learn from his experience, courage, and wisdom. He was to be like a second father to them. So, when David (the youngest brother) spoke boldly and defiantly to the soldiers of Israel concerning their responsibility to defend their nation against this "uncircumcised Philistine," a role that was Eliab's responsibility, it caused his fury to burn against his little brother . . . a fury born, "not of a principled faith, but that of selfish pride!"

Why are we surprised by Eliab's reaction to his younger brother, David? Is it not human nature to defend our actions, or lack thereof, when someone holds us accountable? Do we not seek for excuses to explain away our disobedience, fear, or complacency? What about today's church? What happens when someone takes a stand for Christ in your church calling us to faithfulness , or to courageous action, and to be unashamed witnesses for the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Does everyone agree with such an action? Do they all in one accord accept the "call to action," repent of their sinfulness, and march boldly against the forces of hell?! I would hope so, but I think not. Do not be surprised if you find yourself standing alone.

Too many "Christians" today have created a religion for themselves that includes compromise . . . compromise of their faith . . . compromise of their integrity & character . . . compromise of their authenticity. It is a religion that is more associated with outward appearance instead of the truth of the heart. I love the scripture passage of when the prophet Samuel traveled to the home of Jesse to find God's chosen to replace disobedient King Saul. Jesse marched each of his sons by Samuel for God to show him the one God had chosen. Each time Samuel would remark about how "this one" is surely the one God would choose only to have them rejected. Finally, God spoke to Samuel and said, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

Therefore, do not be surprised when others will not stand with you; not even the one who may call himself your "brother in Christ." Remember, our calling is not one of this world, but one where we are to be found faithful in our walk with Christ. It is Christ's acceptance that we need, not the world's applause.

Stan Albright is the National Director of Associations at the North American Mission Board.

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