Soul Food 4 U

It addresses itself to every day issues of life from a Christian perspective. You'll be challenged. You'll be rebuked. You'll be encouraged. You'll grow.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A FRIEND OF MY ENEMY IS MY ENEMY

28 APRIL, 2006

REFLECTIONS:

(+)(+)= (+) A friend of my friend is my friend

(+)(-) = (-) A friend of my enemy is my enemy

(-)(+) = (-) An enemy of my friend is my enemy

(-)(-) = (+) An enemy of my enemy is my friend

Knowledge and appreciation of destiny is what should determine our type of relationship.

When am not near the one I love, I love the one am near. (American pop song)

You are either a missionary or a mission field.

Text:

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners

or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers. NIV

2 Chronicles 19:1 When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is upon you. NIV

Mathematics expresses relationships in a precise and concise manner. While in primary school our Mathematics teacher taught us a formula that has proved very useful in life. A friend of my enemy is likely to plot against me and so cannot be my friend. When we hate the same person, then we have some commonness and that makes us friends. Am suspicious of people who are friends of those who despise me and cannot risk having the as my friends (A friend of my enemy is my enemy).

Those mathematical expressions reflect how human beings are greatly influenced by those with whom they relate. Group pressure is a reality that none of us is too strong to escape. It is the obvious rewards such as "That was a very good presentation, O what a wonderful idea what do you think of party X" etc, that exert pressure that oils the wheels of determination. The core beliefs of the people with whom we interact rub on us and can help us climb to greater heights or put us in a box that is hidden underground. At the very centre of peoples' core is the value they attach to whoever they consider to be their God.

It is dangerous to be a friend of one who does not highly value what you value. It is deadly to have interpersonal relationship with one whose interests and values despise the one who is the source of inner light that guides you along. That is what happened to Jehoshaphat, a wealthy king who was highly esteemed, as he was a friend of King Ahab who hated God's demands of him. King Ahab's value system made him seek those who told him what he wanted to hear. In his committee meetings were those who agreed with him and told him how good he was. He must have been a very popular man whose many prophets not only told him what he wanted to hear but also dramatised messages and beat up those who contradicted their prophecies. Ahab is like any top leader today who is a Christian, with a very large following, who sidelines any one who would not tell him what he wants to hear. Any one who does not want to demonstrate how impressed they are by the wit of the man of God is sidelined for they seem to have nothing to offer.

Both Jehoshaphat and Ahab had a number of things in common; their history, culture, and social placement. The major difference between the two kings was in their core, the unseen inner beliefs that determine one's source of security and guidance. Jehoshaphat was totally dependent on God while Ahab appeared to be dependent on God by the number of prophets that he heard but deep within him, he despised Him. Jehoshaphat knew battles of this life are not won on numbers and might but on the word of God. He had a discerning mind that could tell that the many prophets of Ahab were not really directed by God but by popular views.

What are some key lessons?

1. However much you have in common with another like you, if the person despises what you deeply value then he cannot be your friend. Jehoshaphat almost lost his life while fighting Ahab's battles. Ahab knew that he was deceiving himself but wanted to enjoy the lie. He knew there was a prophet who was genuine but he did not like his message. Are the people with who you walk, sit and stand drawing you closer to God or enlighten you in worldly values? You know the truth. Self-deception leads to death.

2. Do not under-estimate the power of group pressure. However determined you are, you cannot be too strong to withstand friendly persuasion. Consciously choose the people with whom you sit, stand and walk for they could influence your productivity and destiny.

3. When the most important view in your life is that of God, you are likely to experience a lot of marginalisation, mental and physical abuse as happened to Micaiah the genuine prophet. Ahab knew Micaiah as the man who spoke God's message yet did not include him among those he consulted. In times of crisis and uncertainty, when the party is over and people want to know what is in God's mind, can they count on you? Can you as Micaiah say, "As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says."

Africa is in a very desperate need for kings and prophets that cannot but speak what God tells them. Kings who do not go to visit their in-laws who devalue their source of strength. In my view we seem to have many of Ahab's kind. Many Christians are placed in positions of influence but they cannot stand any reflective creative thinking except if it is going to enlarge their territory. Such people seem progressive and enlightened but as you carefully listen to them you realise that they are self-made people to whom God is only used for social purposes. The light of God cannot shine in our world when we are carrying our own torches that give temporary light. The extension of God's kingdom on earth (May Thy kingdom come) which includes eradication of poverty, disease, and ignorance is only possible when we know that no battle is too small to consult God. You and I are the people that God is counting on to be the light of the world.

Might there be need for you to ask yourself what you are doing in that project, committee, council, etc that you know clearly is run by people who regard God as irrelevant and so find pleasure in mocking and making fun of Him? Are you evangelising the unreached or seeking what benefits you can derive from them? You fellowship with those who value what you value and to the rest you are a missionary.

Are you in any way advancing the communication of beliefs and values of those who hate God and do not dignify His people?

What is God saying about you?

There is chorus based on the name of God as given to Moses that says,

If I AM says I am, then I am x2

If I AM says I am, then I am what He says,

If I AM says I am, then I am

READING:

2 Chron 18:1 Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage. 2 Some years later he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria. Ahab slaughtered many sheep and cattle for him and the people with him and urged him to attack Ramoth Gilead. 3 Ahab king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah, "Will you go with me against Ramoth Gilead?" Jehoshaphat replied, "I am as you are, and my people as your people; we will join you in the war." 4 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, "First seek the counsel of the LORD." 5 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets-four hundred men-and asked them, "Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" "Go," they answered, "for God will give it into the king's hand." 6 But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?" 7 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah."

"The king should not say that," Jehoshaphat replied. 8 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, "Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once." 9 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance to the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 10 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns, and he declared, "This is what the LORD says: 'With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.'" 11 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. "Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious," they said, "for the LORD will give it into the king's hand." 12 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, "Look, as one man the other prophets are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably." 13 But Micaiah said, "As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says." 14 When he arrived, the king asked him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" "Attack and be victorious," he answered, "for they will be given into your hand." 15 The king said to him, "How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" 16 Then Micaiah answered, "I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, 'These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.'"

17 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Didn't I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?"

18 Micaiah continued, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing on his right and on his left. 19 And the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?' "One suggested this, and another that. 20 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.' "'By what means?' the LORD asked. 21 "'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. "'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.'

22 "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you." 23 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. "Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?" he asked. 24 Micaiah replied, "You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room." 25 The king of Israel then ordered, "Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king's son, 26 and say, 'This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.'" 27 Micaiah declared, "If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me." Then he added, "Mark my words, all you people!" 28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. 29 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes." So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle. 30 Now the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders, "Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel." 31 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, "This is the king of Israel." So they turned to attack him, but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him. God drew them away from him, 32 for when the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel, they stopped pursuing him.

33 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told the chariot driver, "Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I've been wounded." 34 All day long the battle raged, and the king of Israel propped himself up in his chariot facing the Arameans until evening. Then at sunset he died. NIV

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