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At Mountain Life Church in Park City, where I serve, our fall series is answering the question, “Who Am I?”, specifically looking at our identity in Jesus Christ. I am providing our small groups with a sermon discussion guide so that they can engage with the sermon past Sunday at 2 pm.
One of the weeks, our pastor looked at the story of David and Mephibosheth found in 2 Samuel 9, and how King David invited crippled, ashamed Mephibosheth into community and gave him a new identity, as one who dines at the king’s table.
Many of us are very familiar with this story. It’s a great story of King David showing immense love, kindness, and grace he was under no obligation to. In fact, most other kings would have Mephibosheth killed as he was the grandson of King Saul and viewed as a threat to David’s reign. But because of David’s deep, loving friendship with Jonathan, David extends a beautiful invitation to Mephibosheth.
And being familiar with the story you are familiar with the application: David’s love, kindness, and grace toward Mephibosheth are a foreshadowing of what Christ shows us. And that is true. We tend to see this story as what David did for Mephibosheth, the strong helping the weak. But as I read and interacted with the story, I began to wonder how Mephibosheth helped David.
- What did having your enemy’s grandson at your table every night teach you, David?
- What did having a crippled at your table teach you about shepherding God’s people?
Who is your Mephibosheth?
I know that the struggle within myself as a leader/pastor is to associate with those that can do something for me, specifically lead a small group. Too often, and too consciously I confess, I adopt a utilitarian view of people—what can you do for me?
But in so doing I miss something way too important, something so central to the heart of the God I purport to serve. Throughout the prophets we read that in God’s kingdom the crippled, the outcasts, the widows, and others that society often overlooks have a central role. And in Luke 14, Jesus gives us explicit instructions that when we throw a party to invite the “poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed” (Luke 14:13-14).
Why is this? I believe partly it serves to remind us that God’s kingdom is not a tit-for-tat economy. The way the world operates is upended, overturned, and subverted as God’s kingdom breaks forth. And as we lean into this kingdom life, we realize that it is not us showing Jesus to them, but rather as Matthew 25 reminds us, they show Jesus to us.
So who is your Mephibosheth?
Please don’t misunderstand me: Develop your leaders. Build into them. Spend time with them. Nourish them. Build structures to share the responsibility. Have an eye for those people who God can use to help your ministry soar to new heights. As you develop your leaders bring this same question before them: Who are the Mephibosheths in your neighborhood and circles that are crippled spiritually and living in shame that you can invite into community so that they can find a new identity?
But also, don’t forget: Who is your Mephibosheth?
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