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by Billy Wilson

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    What a miserable affair David’s involvement with Bathsheba was. And in the midst of it all, one man steps forward, Nathan the prophet, and simply shines. He knows David’s secret. Nathan has information that could bring the downfall of the King. He has information that could make him famous. He has information for which David’s enemies would pay a king’s ransom.

    What would Nathan do with such a secret of great power? Why, he would be David’s friend! There’s bad news for David, but the news doesn’t involve him being publicly shamed because of his weakness. Nathan takes David aside, passes on the information, and as far as we are aware, takes the rest of it to his grave. Only the inspirational moving of the Spirit allows us a glimpse. But Nathan! I tell you, applause was invented for such characters and such moments in time.

    Why did Jesus tell us to go to our brothers one on one when we’ve been wronged? (Matthew 18) Among other reasons, it’s because it lessens the shame of the individual. And in doing that, we only increase the odds of the individual repenting and coming home. I know brothers, I’m sure you do too, who would have come back a long time ago had the road we paved been laid with confidence and confinement. But, when we go about lining their road home with floodlights, it’s hardly surprising many of them choose to run and hide for cover.

    Imagine for a moment all the “dirt” Jesus had on the 12 (and everyone else for that matter, but for now, the 12). He knew their weaknesses. He knew the full extent of their pride. He knew the sordid little thoughts they harboured. He knew things that could finish them, that would shame them and drive them underground forever. And He carried them all, every single one, including even the Judas secret to the cross and to His grave. Sing with me, “What a friend we have in Jesus...”

    Do you remember the time the “church police” brought the adulterous woman to Jesus? [Church Police: those who have their lives so perfectly intact they spend most of their time patrolling the lives of others, often times simply looking for a conviction, and never content even with their own precinct.] These were men with nothing good in their hearts, at least at that moment. Willing, ready and armed to end the life of a child of God in order that they may make a point.

    (You know, it’s funny, she didn’t look much like a child of God as she lay sprawled and trembling at the feet of Jesus, did she? Did she? And yet, what do you know? She was. Thank God the Shepherd knows the sheep and that it’s not left up to the church constabulary to discern. Thank God indeed.)

    I don’t know what Jesus wrote in the sand. And I don’t know that anybody else knew when John wrote about it, much less knows today. But that’s precisely my point. It had the desired effect and even spared the shame of the prosecutors. Can you imagine for one moment what secrets Jesus could have disclosed that afternoon? Don’t you suppose that Jesus, if He had so desired, could have exposed every single member of that godless mob? It seems to me that the only people who knew what written was the Christ and those for whom it was intended. Jesus; the only man who can go one to one with someone in the middle of a crowd.

    And if John knew what was written, credit to him, he didn’t share it — not even years after the event took place when he sat to write. So we learn, when it came to hate-filled, godless mobs, Jesus Christ still wasn’t in the “naming and shaming” business. Again, another chorus, if you please... “What a friend ...”

    And what a gift from God our Father, who has given us individuals down through the years who share His heart in this matter. What a smile they are on the face of this earth we ride. No wonder David was a man after God’s own heart, with friends like Nathan around to help.

How perfectly Christlike is that?
    Nathan, and people like him, are the kind of people who offer hope to pitiful sinners like us. People who can be trusted to the extent of being there to listen to whatever has to be said, and once said, think nothing less of us. People who when hearing bad things have the welfare of the guilty at heart. How perfectly Christlike is that?

    As I write here I smile. I have such a brother in mind — we’ll call him Nathan — who knows me more intimately than anyone on earth. I have shared my darkest side with this brother (and with no one else) and have received nothing but compassion, understanding and encouragement from him. The very thought of him makes me smile. His kindness, along with my Father’s, leads me to repentance. Who knows, he may even read this. (Brother, if you do, your friendship means the world to me and makes me want to be the kind of friend I have experienced in you.) I would love to name him, but ...

    I need brothers like this friend of mine. I desire to be a brother, just like that. I don’t wish to be driven underground. Neither do I wish to chauffeur anyone else.

    Let’s cut to the chase. Whose cupboard is skeleton free? Who among us wouldn’t simply bury ourselves should the Father chose to disclose even just some of our “little” secrets? If He so desired, He could bury us all. After all, let’s face it, sometimes we amount to nothing more than candles, mindlessly but deliberately feeding the flames that burn us. When it comes so wickedly easy for us to spill the dirt on others, we should wonder why He doesn’t do so on us. Not to worry though, that’s not His game. We may, however, be silly and expose our baser selves, but it’s not in our Father’s heart to name or shame us. Neither is it in the hearts of His sheep. This is not the kind of fruit by which His trees are recognized. There is another whose orchard is full to bursting with such fruit, but the less said about him the better.

    Knowing full well that there will be many of us, given time, who will expose the truth about our lives, we desperately need our Nathans. We need people who share Jesus’ heart on such matters. We don’t need Delilahs, who discover a man’s weakness then do all they can to ruin him. We don’t need more “church police.” We need a stronger dose of folks like my unnamed friend — that rare species of character who determine not to sell their friends for a moment of fame or righteous “appearing” indignation.

    Dear Father, as we enjoy your banquet of grace, serve us with more folks like Nathan!

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:11)

    Isn’t that staggering? So instead of finishing with another chorus of “What a friend we have in Jesus” lets end with a chorus, “O to be like Thee.”

 
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      © 2003, Billy Wilson, Glasgow, Scotland.

      Title: ""
      Author: Billy Wilson
      Publication Date: July 10, 2003


 
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