Monday, January 05, 2009

Infighting and Church Politics

A Happy New Year to all of you!

Quiz question: After King David had conquered so much of the Promised Land, according to 1 Kings, how did the first bit of that land cease to be under Israelite control? How did the destruction start?

The answer is not what you might expect...

In 1 Kings 9, Solomon tries giving away some of the Promised Land to Hiram, King of Tyre, but Hiram doesn't want it.

King Solomon gave twenty towns in Galilee to Hiram king of Tyre, because Hiram had supplied him with all the cedar and pine and gold he wanted. But when Hiram went from Tyre to see the towns that Solomon had given him, he was not pleased with them. "What kind of towns are these you have given me, my brother?" he asked. And he called them the Land of Cabul, a name they have to this day.
1 Kings 9:11-15, NIV

But the first bits that are clearly conquered by outsiders are done so far more because of infighting among the Israelites, specifically between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Asa [King of Judah] then took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the LORD's temple and of his own palace. He entrusted it to his officials and sent them to Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, the king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. "Let there be a treaty between me and you," he said, "as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me."

Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maacah and all Kinnereth in addition to Naphtali.

1 Kings 15:18-20, NIV

Quick and easy moral from those stories - the destruction of God's people starts when the leaders are more concerned about looking good than about living in the way of God's promises, and when they are more concerned with winning their own little internal battles than about helping God's kingdom to grow.

When church politics is about trying to look good in front of others rather than genuinely being faithful to God (even if he disagrees with us) or when it's about our side winning whichever stupid internal Christian v Christian battle we're fighting at the moment, it leads ultimately to the destruction of God's people and is therefore Wrong.

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