As I was reading in 2 Samuel 15 today, something seemed very familiar to me. It wasn't because I have read the story of Absalom's rise to power before (which I have). No, there was some other reason why this seemed so familiar. Verses 1-6 (ESV) say:
Then it hit me. The reason why Absalom seems so familiar to me is that I've seen him in churches before. Oh, Absalom has had other names, and sometimes he has been female and sometimes he has been male. I have seen him in churches before, under many different guises.
Recently, I've been preaching through Jesus' messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3. In Jesus' message to the church at Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29), Jesus rebukes that church for tolerating Jezebel. She is not a person in the church who is causing trouble, but a spirit of manipulation and control that can manifest itself in many ways. Click here to read my sermon notes from that Sunday. In the same way that the Jezebel spirit can get control in a church, an Absalom spirit can also seduce the people. He works through people, who behave much the same way that Absalom did in the Bible.
The Absaloms in the church like to impress people with fancy wardrobe, flattering words, flaunting of wealth, and false wisdom. (Hey, that sounds like a sermon outline, doesn't it?) Their goal is to steal the hearts of the people away from those who are in rightful leadership. They usurp proper authority, and plot to overthrow what God has established. The tragedy is that many people are beguiled by the tactics of Absaloms in the church. If enough people follow them, they can cause rightful leaders to leave, just as David had to flee.
But blessed are the Ittai folk in the church, who are not fooled by Absalom's wiles. We read about David leaving the palace, passing by all who ware weeping over his departure. Verses 18-22 (ESV) say:
|Ittai the Gittite|
Just as surely as there are Absaloms in the church, there are Ittai people as well--folks who support godly leadership even in times of trouble. People who show their loyalty and commitment. People who see through flattery, finery, falsehood, and flaunting. These people give so much encouragement to those who are in leadership!
So the question is this: In your church, are you Ittai or are you Absalom?