Summary: Servanthoood and the Sword of the Spirit go hand in hand
The Sword and the Servants Knot
Pastor of livingWORD Assembly of God-Delavan, Wisconsin
This is an article written for our local newspaper
I have over many years developed my perception of Christian responsibility toward God, His Church and the unsaved of our community and the world. Before moving to Delavan last year, I ministered under the mentoring of David Applegate, a pastor in Illinois who quickly became one of my best friends. Although I had already put to practice my understanding of Christian duty, this man of God put names to the responsibilities that have indeed helped me share my awareness with others. Terms like “Doing Life Together,” from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others like, “On Your Sword for the Church” and “Tying the Servant’s Knot” have become important phrases in my Christian walk.
The sword and the servant’s knot are items that in the natural world were probably never possessed by the same person. A servant, especially one so lowly that their work required the menial task of washing feet would never have the wealth necessary to own a sword. In fact at one point in history it would have been illegal for the servant/slave to own such a weapon. But today they represent instruments that every Christian must own and utilize in their daily walk for God Almighty. Each, if explained in detail, would require much more column space than allowed here today. Still, follow along as I “put to pen” a few strands of thoughts concerning our sword and our servant’s knot.
First is the sword – a mighty weapon used both in offence and defense. Second Samuel 23:9,10 tell the story of one of the mighty men of David named Eleazar. Verse ten reads, “He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.” (KJV)
Webster defines clave as something that adheres, clings or sticks. In fact the second definition for cleave is “to divide by or as if by a cutting blow – to tear or to split.” So here we see Eleazar, the entire Israelite army had turned tail and ran yet Eleazar went out to battle. He engages in battle until he is weary, too tired to continue, still he presses on - on until the enemy is conquered and the Israelite army returns for the spoil. Besides collecting the spoil, my mind pictures one more thing Eleazar’s friends had to do. The Bible says the Eleazar’s hand and his sword became one that day. He had fought the battle so long that try as he might, he could not make his hand muscles let loose of his sword. In my mind, Eleazar’s friends had to physically pull his fingers away from the sword and tear it free.
Being “On Your Sword for the Church” means taking lessons from Eleazar. Statistics tell us that every week seventy-two churches close their doors forever in the United States. God’s army has plenty of ‘fair weather” soldiers. God needs present day “Eleazars.” It’s better to work together, fighting along fellow soldiers, but when no one else comes along side to fight we must be willing to fight alone.
One more look at the sword before moving on. Asked, “What is the Christian’s sword?” most would tell you the spiritual sword of the Christian is the Bible. To this answer I would not be able to totally disagree. But let me tweak that thought just a bit. The Christian’s sword is “the WORD of God.” Yes the Bible is the WORD of God but it is the WORD not the physical book that is our sword. Though I’m a pastor, I don’t carry my Bible everywhere I go. When I run into the grocery store I seldom, if ever, have my Bible in my hand. But the store checkout line is a ripe field waiting for the Christian to harvest. I’m told that of the approximate five million people living in Wisconsin only a bit more than forty percent are Christian. When you stand in the checkout line chances are pretty good that if the person in front of you goes to church the person behind you does not. If God’s sword, His WORD, is home in your bookshelf and not in your heart, you may loose a battle God intended you to win. Martyred Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best, “What God did to us, we owe to others.” Being on your sword for your church means sharing Jesus with a lost, unsaved world.
The sword is our weapon, however I seldom find people that want to get stabbed. That’s where a lesson on the “Servant’s Knot” comes into play. The lesson is found in John chapter thirteen. The teacher is Jesus, the pupils are the twelve disciples. The classroom is the Last Supper. Jesus and His disciples are seated around the table. Supper has already begun when Jesus stands, removes his garments and with a servant’s knot ties a towel around His waste. We all know what comes next. Jesus washes the disciples’ feet! We quickly agree that the task was below His exalted estate, but let’s discover some facts about foot-washing during this time.