Thursday, May 9, 2013

The King's Friend

Many of those Old Testament books are hard to read.  Law after law, name after name, begot after begot.  We don't know most of these people; what do their names matter?

But there is beauty in even this.  For proof, I take you no further than 1 Chronicles 27:32-34.

David's uncle Jonathan, an educated man who possessed insight, was David's adviser.  Jonathan and Jehiel, son of Hachmoni, were in charge of the king's sons.  Ahithophel was the king's adviser.  Hushai, a descendant of Archi, was the king's friend.  Jehoiada (son of Benaiah) and Abiathar succeeded Ahithophel.  Joab was the commander of the royal army.

It doesn't look like much on the surface.  Characters we've never heard of and never hear of again; David's royal staff.  The Scriptures only tell us, by name and title, who these men are.  Nothing more.  Yet right there in the middle - do you see it? - there is room to list the king's friend.

Just his friend.  Not his scribe.  Not his adviser.  Not his prophet.  Not his commander.  Not his employee.  Just his friend - Hushai, friend enough that the writer thought it was important we know which Hushai we are talking about.  In this case, the descendant of Archi.

Isn't that cool?  I love that stuff like this is in the Bible.

Because it's so easy to think we have to be something spectacular to be in God's book.  It's easy to think we have some role we are supposed to play in the royal palace, in the presence of the King.  We mistakenly believe we have some job in God's entourage that we must carry out.  For a writer (like me), it's easy to think I have to be the scribe - writing the King's story as a record for His people.  Maybe you're a warrior and you think you have to command God's armies.  Maybe you're a prophet (or a pastor) and you think you have to guide God's people.  Too many of us, even those of us already in an aforementioned category, consider ourselves God's adviser - thinking we have to tell Him how exactly He's supposed to be God.

But this tiny little paragraph in 1 Chronicles, these few little sentences it is so easy to miss, tell us that's simply not the case.  And the Gospel of Christ backs that up.

Jesus had twelve (at least twelve) really good friends.  They traveled with Him, prayed with Him, ate with Him, fished with Him, ministered with Him.  Everywhere He went, they were right there beside Him.  They saw Him at His finest moments and at His most fatigued.  A few times, we get a hint that maybe this guy or that guy had a responsibility in the group.  We're told which one handled the money, but Jesus never called a money handler.  When He was picking this ragtag group of disciples, He called them to come.  Follow Him. Live with Him.  Love with Him.  Be His friend.  He never said, "Ok, now I need a scribe, so John, you be that.  And I need a money guy, so it's either Matthew or Judas.  And there's an opening for an adviser.  Peter, you always have something to say..."  

No.  He never went about filling all of these official roles in His life.  He never sought to gather these people who could serve the King.  He never burdened them with such noble titles or heavy obligations.  He wanted them to be His friends, so that they could be who they were and He could be who He was and nobody had to be intimidated by such a thing as being the "King's court."  

They were just the King's friends.  And that was enough.  And it is through His friends that we have heard and come to know His story.  No royal scribe necessary.  (With apologies to myself and every other Christian writer who is tempted to think this is anything.)

It's the same relationship He calls us to.  He wants us to be His friend.  He wants us to live with Him, walk with Him, love with Him.  He wants us to pull our boats to shore while He's grilling our breakfast over an open fire.  He wants us to gather in an upper room and break bread with Him.  He wants us to consider the sinful woman, the broken man, the blind, the deaf, and the mute as we see in His eyes how He sees them with His eyes.  So that we're just living together, loving together, instead of all this official nonsense where we're more wrapped up in our duty than in our doing.  The greatest thing we can do for the kingdom of God is to answer the call of Jesus and simply be His friend.  

We are called to be the King's friend.  Anything else we do for, through, or with God will flow naturally out of that relationship.  No job description required.  And through our friendship, we find that we have a place in His story - like Hushai - and we are telling His continuing tale - like 12 good friends of the Messiah.

That's what I love about our King.  He knows we want to be a part of what He's doing, and He makes a place for us to join Him.  But He hasn't given us a duty in His court; He's set us a place at the table.  Like any good Friend would.

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