Friday, June 23, 2017

All Your Strength: The antihero

Samson: The Antihero

A cautionary tale

When I embarked on this study several years ago, I intended to seek the scriptures for a positive example of each command (heart, mind, soul, strength). Sadly, the Bible doesn't go out of it's way to fabricate success stories. Sometimes we need to learn from failure.

When thinking of strength in the Bible, you have to think of Samson. There really is no one who compares to the lore of Samson's strength. Sure, Caleb is a close second. He did conquer the land of Giants in his generational twilight years. But Samson is the icon of strength--it is the thing for which he is known.

It was also his downfall.

Samson is an interesting case study. We have 4 episodes of his life. Four snippets of a 20-year ministry. (Or 40-year ministry depending on you interpretation of the two verses stating he judged Israel for 20-years.) This begs the following question:

What if...

What if God decided that your four biggest failures were more important to posterity than the remainder of a successful ministry? What would your weaknesses be? Samson's Achilles heel was women and pride. What are yours? Where are the weak points in your love for the Lord?

I would not like that and I doubt anyone would feel comfortable writing down their failures for the world to see. I've seen many people lay into Samson. I've seen precious few who use Samson's life as a mirror reflecting the human condition--a condition inside me/you--right back at them.

A Revealing Prayer

It's easy to gloss over Samson's prayer in Judges 15:18-20. After all, he just fought with the jawbone of a donkey! But it is his first prayer in the narrative, and it reveals some interesting details.
  1. Consciousness: He acknowledges God's work through him.
  2. Relation: He considers himself God's servant, even if his behavior is inconsistent.
  3. Victory: He recognizes the enemy and desperately wants to avoid falling victim to the enemy.
I think these elements, if we're honest, can be found in our prayers.We know what to say to God. Sometimes we actually believe what we say. However, we fall so short. We don't have the strength.

The First Step...

So where are we? How can we live a successful life and love the Lord with all our strength? I guess our first step is to realize our weakness. We must admit that the strength we have in the flesh is not enough, though we wish it were.

The next step is to acknowledge the desire we have within us to please God. And to realize that this desire is likely only there because God placed it in us to begin with. Note the frequency with which "The Spirit of the Lord" comes upon Samson. It's not something he prays for or waits on, it's something that takes hold of him. 

At first, it comes upon him for every mighty act. But, slowly, it becomes replaced by his own strength. Finally, in the case of Delilah, he doesn't even realize that the Spirit of the Lord was not with him. It is a sad state of affairs that has direct correlation with the ability of a believer to grieve the Holy Spirit.

I'm sorry that this is not an "uplifting" message. But it is an important warning to hear and realize as we journey towards a more perfect love for the one who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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