Mission -> Community -> Gospel (Grace)

by Chris Reis
Our Gospel communities are currently going through the book “Called Together;” it is laid out in the progression of Gospel, Community, and Mission, but what does this look like to someone who lives outside of the of the Church (outside of the community of believers)?  We, who live in the community of believers, in the presences of the King of kings, must always remind ourselves of where we have come from.  Let me draw from the history of King David an event that shows what “Called Together” means to someone who was brought in from the outside.
The story starts with the death of King Saul (the first king of Israel).

 [1Sa 31:2-3, 6] 2 The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons and killed his sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua. 3 When the battle intensified against Saul,  the archers caught up with him and severely wounded him.  ... 6 So on that day, Saul died together with his three sons, his armor-bearer, and all his men.  (HCSB)

Because of Adam, our blood relative, we are all dead in our sins.  With the death of Saul and his sons itwas customary in those days for the king of a new dynasty to completely massacre anyone connected with the prior dynasty (kill the heir apparent who is first in line of succession to the throne).  We see David, when he becomes king, going against the principle of self-preservation and asks what he can do for the family of the former king.

[2Sa 4:4] 4 Saul's son Jonathan had a son whose feet were crippled. He was five years old when the report about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. The one who had nursed him picked him up and fled, but as she was hurrying to flee, he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth.  (HCSB)

David does something that is very “missional” when he asks the following question:

[2Sa 9:1-4] 1 David asked, "Is there anyone remaining from Saul's family I can show kindness to because of Jonathan?" 2 There was a servant of Saul's family named Ziba. They summoned him to David, and the king said to him, "Are you Ziba?" "I am your servant," he replied.  3 So the king asked, "Is there anyone left of Saul's family that I can show the kindness of God to?" Ziba said to the king, "There is still Jonathan's son who was injured in both feet."  4 The king asked him, "Where is he?" Ziba answered the king, "You'll find him in Lo-debar at the house of Machir son of Ammiel."  (HCSB)

The verses above happened many years after Mephibosheth was injured while being carried away by his nurse.  Between that time and this, Mephibosheth's uncle Ishbosheth, waged a bloody war against David for the throne of Israel.  David seeking to honor the memory of Jonathan, Saul’s son, asks the question “Is there anyone remaining from Saul's family I can show kindness to because of Jonathan?”  David, at some point may have considered that there was at least an outside chance that Mephibosheth might follow in his uncle’s footsteps and not his father’s, but instead of fearing this possibility, David, in love for the lost family member, trusts God and seeks out the lost son of Jonathan (the grandson of Saul). 
Mephibosheth, a young crippled man with a son of his own named Micahis hiding in Lo-debar, probably hoping to remain anonymous to King David.  What Mephiboshet doesn’t realize is that David wanted to lift him out of Lo-debar and bring him into “Community” with him in the house of the king.

 [2Sa 9:5-9, 11, 13] 5 So King David had him brought from the house of Machir son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.  6 Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, bowed down to the ground and paid homage. David said, "Mephibosheth!" "I am your servant," he replied.  7 "Don't be afraid," David said to him, "since I intend to show you kindness because of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all your grandfather Saul's fields, and you will always eat meals at my table."  8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?"

Mephibosheth, like so many that are outside of the “community” of God, are leery and suspicious of our intent.  Do we look at these outsiders like a “dead dog” or is there love and concern in our eyes?  Are they a notch on our belt or a lost family member that needs to be brought into the community?

9 Then the king summoned Saul's attendant Ziba and said to him, "I have given to your master's grandson all that belonged to Saul and his family. ... 11 Ziba said to the king, "Your servant will do all my lord the king commands." So Mephibosheth ate at David's table just like one of the king's sons. ... 13 However, Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem because he always ate at the king's table. His feet had been injured.  (HCSB)

The king called the servant of Saul's family named Ziba and placed him in charge Saul’s estate.  But the most amazing part of this story is Mephibosheth is given a place at the table of David the king.  This is a beautiful picture of “grace” (the Gospel in action).  The scene closes with Mephibosheth sitting at David’s table like one of the king's sons with his injured feet coved by the loving grace of the king.  That is truly the purpose and picture of “Called Together,” reaching out, bringing in, and extending grace to all.