You remember the story- I’m sure? You’ll remember King David – the villain of the piece. You’ll remember Bathsheba – a victim of the king. You’ll remember her husband, too – poor loyal Uriah. Do you remember Joab, though? Joab was the commander of King David’s army – and charged with the unpleasant task of clearing up David’s mess. In order to keep his hands clean, he was to send Uriah to the thickest part of the battle, and then withdraw all the support troops from around him – so that he could die by the hands of the enemy. In this way, Uriah was gone, and David’s problem was no more.
At different times during my life I have felt as if I am wearing Joab’s clothing. On those occasions when I have commissioned personnel for mission service overseas and promised to pray for them, I occasionally slip into Joab-mode as the months roll by. In other words, I have willingly sent them into battle, but allowed myself to get distracted by other things – and I leave them to fight on alone without the support of concerted prayer.
Later today I shall meet with a group of energetic, creative, motivated people who are serving the Church of Jesus Christ in digital space. They are visiting places and contacting people across the virtual map who are far from any church. They are intersecting with culture in myriad ways which have not hitherto been possible. This is cause for celebration.
My question, however, is whether they occasionally turn into Uriah and the rest of the church occasionally slips into Joab’s role? Do we dispatch them into these digital spaces and then simply leave them to get on with it? Any missionary who was contacting over 1000 people in a week would probably feature in some sort of church prayer letter – but do these ‘digital disciples’ get that kind of support?
Of course, the people reading this are probably the wrong ones to ask. The chances are that if you are on this page then you also share some degree of conviction about the value of an online Christian presence. Could you spread it further, though? Could you get this article, or a version of it, into some printed medium in your church?
Could we do something to gather the troops around all those Uriah Tweeps out there, I wonder?