Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Being Right, But about the Wrong Thing

Now in those days the advice of Ahithophel was like that of one who inquires of God. 2 Samuel 16:23

When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. 2 Samuel 17:23

Have you ever known anyone who always thought they were right? As a matter of fact, I have been accused of that attitude myself. The truth is; I am wrong more than I care to admit (which is probably what motivates the accusation in the first place.)

Now if you were to accuse Ahithophel of thinking he was always right, his answer would be, “Well yea, I am always right!” But Ahithophel’s problem wasn't that he was always right, his problem was that he was right about the wrong thing.

Ahithophel was one of King David’s advisors. When David’s son Absalom hatched a conspiracy to take over the Kingdom, Absalom enlisted the aid of Ahithophel. (2 Sam 15:12.)

When David fled Jerusalem, he asked another advisor, Hushai to go back to Jerusalem to frustrate the advice of Ahithophel.

Absalom sought the advice of Ahithophel as to what to do about his father David. Ahithophel advised that Absalom take 12,000 men at once and pursue David and kill him. If he did as Ahithophel advised, then Absalom would secure the Kingdom for himself. Hushai, on the other hand, reminded Absalom that David was an experienced and mighty warrior. A few thousand men would be no match for David and his seasoned warriors. Instead Absalom should muster the whole army of Israel and then pursue David. A strategy that would take quite some time.

Absalom followed Hushai’s advice. So Ahithophel went home and killed himself. Before we think Absalom was just a sore loser to the extreme, we need to understand what Ahithophel knew. Ahithophel understood that his advice, not followed would result in David’s survival and eventual return to Jerusalem as King. David would not let go unpunished Ahithophel’s treason.

I hate to admit that I can really identify with Ahithophel. Not the part about being right all the time; but the part of being right about things that don’t really matter. If Ahithophel was so smart, I wonder why he threw his support to Absalom in the first place. That was definitely the wrong choice.

I am writing this blog as an examination of my own life as a Christian and minister which has too often been focused on the technical strategy of being a Christian and minister, while missing the bigger questions of what it really means to be a Christian who ministers, worships, serves, parents my children and loves my wife in a way that truly shows allegiance to the real King.

You may be so far along on this journey already that you look at me and wonder, “why it has taken so long?” Maybe like me you’re beginning to take a serious look at the focus of your life. We've come to realize it is possible to have been right all along, but on things, that in the end, were never intended to be the defining elements of following Jesus. Or maybe you haven’t seen it like this in your life. No matter, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts about this journey. I don’t know if it will really help you, but I imagine that I will be richer for the experience.

Jesus said something about our tendency to be accurate to the tenth about spices, yet all the while having neglected the more important matters – like justice, mercy, and faithfulness; That is Ahithophel thinking.

This is Ahithophel’s Journal, and if you’re willing, we can write it together. Have you had any experiences with ‘Ahithophel Thinking’?

-John Wheeler