A couple of weeks ago Ivor Caplin talked about being yourself and used the story of King David as an example. Remember?
Well, I’ve always loved the story so when I found a copy of the film on DVD I was really excited. After all, it’s not just a great story but Richard Gere plays King David and does a wonderful dance before the ark of the covenant in nothing but a loincloth. What’s not to like?
But I have to warn you, I was really disappointed. Not because of Richard Gere,– but because the film completely misses one of the main story themes – David’s affair with Jonathon.
Don’t you hate it when the movie’s different to the book? Not so bad when a film is true to the Spirit of the book but sometimes it’s way out.
For example – Dune. In the movie, they have these strange devices that are not found anywhere in the books. There’s not a mention that the BenneBene Gesserit are a bunch of frauds using religion to manipulate people, or the emperor is using a prison planet to build a terrorist army, or how Paul Atrades then does the same thing with the people on Dune. They really colour the story and it loses so much texture when you mess with it.
Same things happened with some other of my favourite books.‘The Golden compass’, Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, The Davinci code, and the Order of the Phoenix which had so many chunks missing it was like a Swiss cheese.
The whole point of the David story is what a wild card he is, he’s probably bi, has a gay love affair, is a complete rogue, can be darkly manipulative, flies by the seat of his pants, and yet at the centre of his heart is this great love for God.
In the Bible, David is presented to us as a very flawed human being who has an amazingly unconditional love for God. In fact, whoever you are, gay or straight, butch or femme, athletic or geek, there’s something in David’s character to relate to.
Which is really interesting because the Bible itself also gives us Lots of reasons why we shouldn’t be proud of David. David becomes a terrorist with a band of outlaws in the desert, and even when he becomes King he has Uriah the Hittite killed just to cover an affair with his wife Bathsheba. The book of Ruth tells us that his paternal Grandmother, Ruth, wasn’t Jewish at all, but a Moabite, which according to scripture should have disqualified him as King.
This story tells us that God doesn’t choose someone who’s conventional. In David God chooses a man whose greatest love was another man, and in the Bible, you wouldn’t have thought that was a reason to be proud.
Yet David is proud – through and through. Not especially of what he has, or what he’s done, or even who he is. He’s proud because he belongs to God, and proud of what God can do. His love of God makes him proud.
Psalm 27: 1-6
Pride is important. Not the kind of pride that says one person is better than another. Not the kind of pride that comes from owning things, or being the best at something. I’m talking about a pride in oneself simply because we are God’s creation.
You are not an accident – God chose to make you, chose to create you. You are the will of God made manifest, the evidence of the love of God, Our awesome God! You belong to God, God loves you and sees you as beloved, and that’s reason to be proud.
King David’s pride wasn’t in himself, it was in God. He knew he couldn’t stand against Goliath – but God could do so, and easily! God is so amazing She can use a pretty shepherd boy with nothing more than a sling to defeat an army. No wonder David Was proud!
The danger comes when our pride is in ourselves rather than in God when it’s about who we are and what we can do than about who God is and what God can do. We see it in this evening’s scripture reading.
“A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”
They have too much pride to ask Jesus for help. Oh, they believe he can perform miracles, they’re just too proud to ask.
They don’t go to Jesus and ask him to still the storm. They go to Jesus and say “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”. They need help but their pride says “If he cared about us he’d wake up and do something, if he loved us then he’d be helping out, at the very least he’d be panicking just like us”.
Now, I don’t blame the disciples. As much as I’d like to think I’d do it differently Chris will tell you how many times I huff and puff and grunt and groan before I ask for help.
If I’m running around preparing for guests, trying to do a dozen things at once, I may need some help, I might even want to ask for help, but my pride wants him to notice me, see what’s happening, and think what I’m thinking, feel what I’m feeling.
If I was thinking about him I’d simply ask for help. But I’m not. I’m thinking about me, my thoughts, my needs. Just as the disciples did on the boat. If he cared about me he’d see that I need help and offer. So he either doesn’t notice and doesn’t care, or he does notice but doesn’t offer, and so doesn’t care. My Pride is hurt and it won’t let me ask for help.
My ego says he doesn’t care about me because he doesn’t care about the same things I do. Of course, the reality is that just because he cares about me doesn’t mean he can see the world the way I do. Or would even want to.
As Christians, we try to see the world the way Jesus sees it. But it’s so difficult! We want Jesus to notice us because we do good things. Because we try hard. Because we believe in him and carry his name.
But the reality is that Jesus loves us because we’re family. There’s nothing we can do to make Jesus love us any more than he already does. And There’s nothing we can do to make Jesus love us any less than he already does.
This is the paradox – Pride in ourselves, pride that’s birthed in our ego, pride that says ‘look at me, I’m important, notice me’ invariably leads to a fall; whereas pride in Jesus and what Jesus can do – pride in God and what God can do, leads to miracles.
The Apostle Paul is a great example – he has every reason to be proud of himself. If anyone was a good self-sacrificing Christian, it was Paul.
2 Cor. 11: 24 – 30
Notice that he’s not proud of any of the things that he’s endured, his strength and courage in the face of fear – in fact, he says that if he’s going to boast about anything it’s going to be his weaknesses. Why?
Romans 8: 31-39:
Paul knows that Jesus loves him. He knows that there’s nothing you can do to make Jesus love you any more than he already does. And There’s nothing you can do to make Jesus love you any less than he already does.
Paul doesn’t believe that it’s the job of God to run around after him. Paul believes that it’s his job to follow where the Spirit leads. Not because he has to earn God’s love but because he already knows he is loved.
The disciples in the boat missed the point. They’re waiting for Jesus to prove that he loves them. They couldn’t control the storm, they couldn’t control the sea, they couldn’t control the wind, and yet instead of asking for help, they yell at Jesus. “Don’t you care?” – Jesus might have well had said “not about your stupid pride – no”
If it was David he’d have been proud just to have been in the company of the son of God. If it was Paul he’d have been proud just to be sailing with Jesus. It’s not the kind of pride that says “I’m so great”, but the kind of pride that says “look who I’m with, look at who chooses to walk by my side and keep me at theirs” It’s not a pride in what you can do yourself, but in what God can do through you and for you. Our faults, our ineptitude, like David’s, or Paul’s, only magnifies the amazing qualities of God. It’s not about us, it’s about God.
The disciples in the boat, their pride wouldn’t admit weakness or fault. Their pride wouldn’t admit to ignorance or stupidity. Yet it is these things which should make us proud. Look – I’m full of weakness, I make mistakes, I am ignorant of a lot of stuff and I make some stupid mistakes, yet God loves me. How proud am I of that! Jesus died for me – How proud am I of that! Look at my life – somehow, in the middle of all this mess is God. What an amazing God we serve! What a powerful God we serve! What a crazy, loving, awesome God we serve!
During Pride month we should walk with our heads high, especially if we’re gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, or Transgender. Not because some people think we should be ashamed and we want to shake that off – but because we understand that God made us this way and loves us this way, just the same as any straight or cisgendered person. We should be proud of ourselves as God’s creation, God’s beloved, and God’s redeemed. We are the family of God and that’s something to truly be proud of. Amen.