“’Do not conform’ is difficult advice in a generation when crowd pressures have unconsciously conditioned our minds and feet to move to the rhythmic drumbeat of the status quo.” Martin Luther King Jr.

HOLY BUCKETS it’s a minefield out there isn’t it? More and more we are forced to face what it means to interact with both grace and truth in a vitriolic society, what it means to not be conformed to our culture, but live out the way of Jesus.

It seems like people are just looking for a reason to be offended. We pray for discernment and we ask questions like:

  • If I speak out on this issue will it mean that a whole segment of the population won’t listen to me about anything anymore?
  • Is this the most important issue to take a stand on?
  • Is social media the best place to have this discussion?
  • What exactly is it that I hope to accomplish if I take a public stand on this issue?

“Both secularism and devout faith are growing. What’s going away is the mushy middle of religiosity.” Tim Keller

Recently I was reading two accounts in the Bible where three women modeled different approaches to conflict and evil that we might learn from. I thought I’d unpack one today and two tomorrow giving possible contemporary parallels for us.

  1. Abigail – Diplomat

Background: Abigail was an intelligent and beautiful woman married to Nabal, who was foolish –  “surly and mean in his dealings”. David and his men were traveling through the wilderness and had protected Nabal’s sheep and shepherds. However, when David asked for food in return, Nabal responded with a furious rejection. In turn, David’s first response was to vow to kill Nabal and his men.

“It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good.  May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!” 1 Samuel 25:21-22

Situation: David feels disrespected by Nabal. He is offended and he has good reason to be, but Abigail steps in to de-eschalate the situation.

Abigail discerns that the best way to handle this is to urge David to cover the offense with grace. She diffuses the conflict by looking at the bigger picture. In order to get him to listen, she approaches with humility.

23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say.25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshedand from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

28 Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurlaway as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel,31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

How might this work for You ?–  One of the complicated and divisive issues of our day is that of land – a home – for both Israelis and Palestinians. It is nuanced and is a great place for us to listen with humility. Our friends at Telos   are great mentors in this area – fostering cross-cultural relationships. We can learn from them, or any individual or organization that models the humble posture of a learner, a peacemaker.

Can you think of personal examples where you have taken the posture of an “Abigail”?