I'm the most handsome guy ever!
His name is Absalom. He is one of King David's sons, and he is the hottest prince in town. Every teen has a photo of him etched on their stone tablets and follow his Instarock and Facescroll accounts. He has long flowing, golden hair that he only cuts once a year, and then the girls really swoon (2Samuel 14:26). However he's in trouble, big trouble. In fact he is facing a murder charge. You see, there was an incident, I wont go into the details you can read the posts here (2Samuel 13)
However, at the end of this sordid affair, Absalom has murdered his brother in a revenge attack. Like any guilty criminal he runs for his life before the king arrests. He deserves to die! However after spending three years in exile he wants to come home and so he concocts a scheme to get his dad to forgive him. After a few twists and turns, David, who obviously misses his son, forgives him for this terrible crime, and invites him home. He has repented. He is forgiven. He is home.
“Absalom came and bowed deeply in reverence before David. And the king kissed Absalom.” (2Sam 14:33)
Absalom is super amped to be home, and of course he soon settles into the good life and is tweeting about it. He's enjoying King's Burger takeaways, hanging with his mates, or just brushing his hair. Before long all is as it once was. In fact he is loving his life and himself so much he decides to take fifty selfies one day. The plan is simple. As Absalom is still waiting for the invention of the first iRock, he decides to employ 50 runners. As he travels through the streets of Jerusalem, these 50 guys run in front of his modified chariot, with mag wheels and racing stripes, and shout out, “Check out Abs the Absalom!” (2Sam 15:1). It's the ultimate selfie, and has the ultimate effect. The chicks line the roads to watch Absalom as he races through the streets. Soon the trending hashtags are #Abs-alom #50selfies
I can be so much more
Before long Absalom has so many followers on Instarock and Facescroll he is more popular than the harpist band No Direction, and the crooning sensation Dust'n Believer. The people are flocking to Absalom. They love him. He gets more Likes on his selfies than he gives himself. Life is perfect. It's a dream. And then he begins to wonder. It's one thing being a prince, but that's nothing compared to being king. And so he gets to thinking.
Using his extensive network he spreads the message all over the social media channels (2Samuel 15:10-12). From love sick girls to guys wanting to bask in his glory, they all flock to Absalom, and the Jerusalem Spring uprising surges almost overnight. Old Dave has always found Instarock, and Facescroll a bit confusing. “This new tech stuff is crazy,” he once said to his wife Bathsheba as he listened to his old favourite “Kill the giant” by the Rolling Slingstones. “The kids, especially Absalom are wasting their lives on it. Absalom will never ger a decent job if he doesn't focus on something real, like I did; Sheep tending, or giant killing.” And so David does not see the Jerusalem Spring uprising coming until its almost too late.
Late at night an SMS (scroll message service) arrives tied to the leg of a trusty pigeon saying that Jerusalem is in rebellion and he had better get out while he still can (2Sam 15:13-15). And so David and his close family do a runner before Absalom and his new friends kill him. In no time David is deposed, and Absalom is king. If Absalom was popular before, now his followers are off the charts. He even snags an “official person” account with Twutter. He has finally arrived. He is king of everything. No limits. No controls.
Of course there's always the chance that David, the wily old codger, could stage a comeback. “It's doubtful,”Absalom laughs over a barley beer as he celebrates, “he can't even sign into Facescroll...but better safe than sorry.” And so with some dubious advice from advisors he decides to hunt David down and kill him to remove any future threat. However, David, a man after God's own heart, puts his faith in God to help him. And so although the odds seem stacked against David when the battle lines are drawn, the battle is not to the swift and strong and long haired, ripped ab dudes; the battle is God's.
A Selfie end...
Absalom's army is beaten (2Sam 18:7) and Absalom is on the run. Gone are all the selfies. Gone are all his new friends. Gone are all the adoring followers. He is running for his life. As he escapes, perched atop his turbo-charged mule, he passes under a tree, and his beautiful, long, golden wavy hair - remember #50selfies? - flies up and catches in the branches. His mule gallops off into the sunset and Absalom is left dangling. Hanging by his pride - by his beauty - by his self! Sadly, in contravention of the king's command to show Absalom mercy, despite all he has done, he is executed by a disobedient army officer.
And so ends the brief life of Absalom. It seems like fiction. How could someone be so self-obsessed, so calouse, so sinful that he could conspire to kill a person who never hurt him. A person who only ever wanted his good. A person who forgave him. A person who restored him to a beautiful life. No, not a person - his king - his family! It seems impossible.
So, there we have it. The first guy to do selfies. And there we see where it all ended up. But you see, it's too easy to sit here reading this on your selfie device and think, “Wow! What a horrible person he was. What an evil, self obsessed person.” And then we click over to check our Instagram account to see how many followers we now have, or we quickly move on to see how many Likes we got on that post we made on Facebook. It's too easy to gasp at the pride of others and not see ourselves. It's too easy to abhor the selfishness of others and never glance at ourselves in the mirror.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us" (Rom 15:4).
And so, how about lifting, not our phones to snap a selfie, but God's Word to see how he sees us. Let's put ourselves into this story. Forget Absalom the Ab...this story is about you and I. Let's take two on that story.
Me in the Bible
So, life was bad...really bad. You see everything had gone wrong. Sure it was my fault. I had totally screwed up. I had messed up in such a big way. I'd...well I can't say, but take it from me I had done some unforgivable things. I really couldn't see any way back. I was alone, dying...maybe not literally, but certainly emotionally. Yet in this state the king came to me. Jesus came to me. He asked me to come home. “I forgive you,” he said as I looked up at him. “Come home. You are welcome in my home. You are part of our family, and it's with the family that you belong.”
I couldn't believe the words he was saying to me. Could I really be forgiven for what I'd done. Yet I looked into his eyes and all I saw was forgiveness. No judgement. No hatred of me. And so I reached up my hand from where I was lying in the gutter and he grabbed me with his firm grip. Instantly I was standing. Instantly I was in his most beautiful home. A place of peace. A place of joy. A place of love. Love, joy and peace like the strains of a symphony wrapped around me. I had never known such a place. Home, with my king.
Before I knew it I was awash in the blessings of the king. If before I had been living a nightmare, now it seemed as if I was living a dream. Yet one day when the king asked me to give to someone who certainly did not deserve it, nor appreciate it, I resisted. “I've tried to give to him,” I replied. “He just throws it in my face. He doesn't deserve it.” Jesus looked at me, with that same look he had given me when I was in need and said, “Give to him anyway.” I did.
I posted on Facebook about how much I'd helped this person. I had helped so many people. I was good at it, even if I didn't always like it. Soon I had quite a following looking to me for advice on caring, on giving, on loving. I suppose it's something I've always been quite good at. I'm naturally empathetic. I'm naturally good at looking out for people. I told them how to become like me. How to be kind and caring. They listened.
He came to me. “Don't share what you're doing on Facebook,” he said. “Just keep it between you and I. Let's just keep it in the family.” I looked at him shocked. I thought he knew about technology and modern advances. Maybe I was wrong. I thought he could see how good sharing this has been. I've attracted even more money. “I don't think you understand,” I began, “this is a new world we live in, and if we don't tell everyone on social media we wont get anywhere.” He looked at me, with that same look he'd given me years ago. He did not reply, but I knew what he was thinking. I unfriended him. “Now he wont know what I do,” I thought. “Sure he helped me, but now it's time for me to take over. It's time for me to rule this show.” I blocked him on Instagram.
I was right. It made no difference. Before I knew it I'd left him behind. I'm free of him. It feels like I am riding on a gallant steed of success, while above me endless opportunities seem to hang down tantalizingly close, as though they are giant trees, leaning over me. I look upward as my pride, my success, my blessings flap behind me like a silken trail of hair. “Aah,” I think, “I have chosen well!”
To be Continued (in your life, in your decisions)
Take a Selfie
God has reached out to all of us, while we were down and out. As Paul says - “God demonstrates his own love for us in this:While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).We deserved to die for our sins, but he chose to reach out and save us anyway. Yet all too often, when we enter in the life he offers (John 10:10) we soon forget him. We think that we can achieve our salvation through our own efforts, our own knowledge, our own energy - “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” (Jer 10:23), and so we become full of pride, puffed up - “Some of you have become arrogant” (1Cor 4:18). And in this state we turn our back on the true source of our power, the true source of our life, the true source of our knowledge, the true source of everything, Jesus. And in doing this we seek to kill him...again, just like Absalom did to his king, so many years ago. “We've re–crucified Jesus! We've repudiated him in public!” (Heb 6:6)
Take a selfie. What do I see? What is my long hair?
Is it my looks? Or maybe my money?
Is it my brains? Or maybe my wit?
Is it my achievements? Or maybe my follower count?
What is my long hair?
It's not fiction. How could someone be so self-obsessed, so calouse, so sinful that he could conspire to kill a person who never hurt him. A person who only ever wanted his good. A person who forgave him. A person who restored him to a beautiful life. No, not a person - his king - his family! It seems impossible.