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The church is not social club. It is family: as big, important and essential as your biological family, if not more!

The story about Jonathan—a seemingly side-figure so overshadowed by others like Saul, David and Solomon in the Bible—can be terribly revealing. A few weeks back, after I had been asked to share the word during our home group meeting, I decided to do a comparative analysis of Saul and David. But during my meditation, the Holy Spirit told me to teach from the story of Jonathan.

Jonathan. What is there about Saul's son worth teaching?

I flipped to a scripture that I had always loved, which speaks about David mourning about Jonathan, who had died together with his father, Saul, in the trenches as they were at war against the Philistines.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me; 
Your love to me was wonderful,
Surpassing the love of women.
2 SAM 1:26, NKJV

David said his love for Jonathan surpassed that of women. I know all about a man’s love for a woman. Such love, according to Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived with the exception of Jesus, “is as strong as death” and “many waters cannot quench it.” (SONG. 8:6-7, NLT).

It was then that I was led to 1 SAM. 20 where, to my surprise, I discovered there was so much more to Jonathan than I would have wanted to credit him with. Jonathan stands as a symbol not only of integrity, but of loyalty, too. According to the wisdom of the world, blood is thicker than water. But I am here to tell that spiritual relationships are stronger even than blood ties. Jonathan decided to close his ranks with David—his spiritual brother—than with his father Saul, to whom he was bound by blood.

After Cain had killed his brother Abel and God asked him about the latter’s whereabouts, he snorted that he was not his brother’s keeper (GEN. 4:9). But I am here to tell you that in this (spiritual) family, you are your brother’s keeper. You should be accountable to God about your brothers and sisters in Christ. If God asks me about their whereabouts,   I should be able to answer.

When David had absented himself from the dinner table in the royal house, having known that Saul was bent on killing him, Jonathan was prepared to take the flak on his behalf.  

Then Saul’s anger was aroused 
against Jonathan, and he said to him,
‘You son of a perverse, 
     rebellious woman! 
     Do I not know that you have 
chosen the son of Jesse
to your own shame and to 
the shame of your mother’s nakedness?’
I SAM 20:30, NKJV

It is amazing that Jonathan defends his spiritual brother before his very own biological father. We are called to defend our brothers and sisters in Christ and to stand with them in the face of accusations. If they are wrong, stand with them. Your role is to pray for them and counsel them in love and wisdom. You do not condemn them.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault,
ye which are spiritual, 
restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
      considering thyself, 
      lest thou also be tempted.
      Bear ye one another’s burdens, 
       and so fulfil the law of Christ.
GAL 6:1-2, KJV.

To prefer others ahead of you is not easy. For instance, if you are well-spoken, well-groomed and educated, how would you take it if someone who is not anywhere near you in those areas being given a church post, perhaps as an associate pastor, ahead of you? This is one of the important lessons we can draw from Jonathan’s life. Jonathan was the next in line to ascend to the throne after his father Saul. He understood royal etiquette and was so well-groomed for royalty, but it did not grieve him to step aside and make way for David.

In many of his musings, Solomon lets us in on the secret of the grooming of a prince in preparation for leadership. He remarked:
For I was a son unto my father,
tender and an only one in the sight of my mother.

This is quite interesting because every male child, literally, is a son to their father. But here, Solomon meant he was the son of choice, the one set up to inherit the throne. Such sons in the royal family were given a kind of special mentorship to prepare them for kingship.

Jonathan was one such son. But he was prepared to give it up for David, who was not even of his own blood, but a stranger in biological terms. This David was also no more than a “rascal” who smelt of sheep, dung, hay and dust because as a shepherd boy, he literally spent all his time in the pastures with the sheep. Just like Jonathan, your brother in Christ must celebrate your rise. He must not feel threatened even if he is obviously better qualified than you for a certain post in church.

This is in line with what the scripture compels us to do: to prefer others ahead of our self. Those that are given certain positions ahead of us in the house of God need our backing and prayers, even if it had been our desire to be in those offices.

 Therefore, as we have opportunity, 
let us do good to all,
especially to those who 
      are of the household of faith.
GAL. 6:10, NKJV  

Earlier, the Apostle Paul had just encouraged the church at Galatia never to give up doing what was good because they would accrue some benefit if they kept that spirit. This was sowing seed, and like any sower who scatters seed in fertile ground, they were assured of a bumper harvest.

It is my desire to see members of a congregation, in particular, establishing strong spiritual relationships that will transcend generations. My children should have relationships with my spiritual brothers’ children. These bonds should stand the test of time and endure. Long after Jonathan was dead, David, his spiritual brother, inquired if there was still someone from Jonathan’s family line that he may extend goodness to them.

Such is the significance of spiritual relationships. They are stronger than blood ties and attract the blessings of the Lord. Having said this, however, I think it is important for me to emphasize that biological relations, especially with parents, remain important. The way you relate with them is important to the Lord, too. For instance, in as much as you treat your spiritual family well, if you do not honour your biological parents, you attract a curse on yourself...


  1. We are to do the will of the Father and nothing else.

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