In the story of David and Abigail (1 Samuel 25), David vows retribution for the way his men were treated by the landowner (Nabal) who should have been grateful for the kindness his servants received from them. These men of David were armed and dangerous fighting men who stood guard in the field against thieves and robbers while the servants of Nabal were shearing their sheep. (Nabal had 3,000 sheep; it was a major enterprise.) In return, it was customary to assume the soldiers would be able to share in the food and wine that always flowed freely during the festive celebration at the conclusion of the shearing time. Nothing doing. And not only did Nabal turn down their request, he hurled insults at them concerning David. No wonder David was bent on making Nabal and his whole household pay. But this is where David stepped over the line because vengeance is something that should always be left in the hands of the Lord.
Today, Christians receive a good deal of offensive rhetoric from the media and the political left. We could easily think of getting even, especially as it relates to the culture wars that always center around highly-volatile issues. The problem is, we are to be carriers of grace and forgiveness not revenge and counter-insults.
What a lot of people don’t recognize is that we don’t have to be in this culture war. We put ourselves in this war in the first place by following Christian leaders who convinced us there were political solutions to social and spiritual problems when there are not, and if we got ourselves in this war, we can get ourselves out. Time to walk away. Time to go AWOL. You can’t fight someone you came to save. You can’t hate someone you are called to love. You can’t be friends with your enemies. We have no flesh and blood enemies anyway. We are friends of sinners. We have good news for everybody.
Even if you could legislate morality back into society, would that save anyone’s soul? Would what we were trying to win in the culture war bring anyone closer to Jesus? It most likely would drive people farther away from Jesus because it would drive them further away from us. People who are trying to get to Jesus are tripping over us. Let’s face it: this war is counter-productive to the gospel. By making political enemies we are driving away the very people we want to reach.
Abigail sent David back to his camp with the food and wine he originally requested. Needless bloodshed was averted. There was a sharing of life. And Nabal, whose name means fool, when he heard about what almost happened to him and his household, had a stroke and died anyway. Vengeance is the Lord’s.
Time to come home from the war and get busy loving our neighbors. Undoubtedly, especially in this current political climate, the culture war will go on, but we don’t have to fight in it. We have much more important things to do.
In light of this, this 6-minute video of U2’s Bono speaking at the NAACP Awards ceremony is especially important. Click on picture.