The excerpt must be from a book he is reading – he is a voracious reader. I find this piece very lifting and humiliating at the same time –
Eugene Peterson on David at Ziklag
Moralism is death on spirituality. Moralism is the approach that puts all the emphasis on our performance. It operates out of a conviction that there’s a clear cut right that we’re capable of discerning, choosing, and carrying out in every and all circumstances. It puts the entire burden of our spirituality on what we do. God is marginalized. And it crushes our spirits. There’s no mercy to it
Secularism is also death on spirituality. Secularism is the approach that the world as it is establishes the primary context for our daily living and the better we understand and accommodate ourselves to the world the better off we’ll be. We can then use whatever advantages accrue to us–money, position, reputation–to “serve the Lord.” It operates our of the conviction that spirituality is otherworldly and irrelevant regarding basic living. Spirituality is an extra that’s added on to a secular base of economic savvy, career know-how, and social smarts. God is trivialized. Secularism is contemptuous of our spirit. There’s no salvation in it.
Ziklag, for me, is the premier biblical location for realizing that when we get serious about the Christian life we eventually end up in a place and among people decidedly uncongenial to what we had expected. The place and people is often called a church. It’s hard to get over the disappointment that God, having made an exception in my case, doesn’t call nice people to repentance.
The Christian life is never just my story; it’s a community of stories. I learn my story in the company with others. Each story affects and is affected by each of the others. Most of these others are distressed, in debt, and discontent. This complicates things enormously, but there’s no getting around it. We’re a company. We’re looking fora central meaning to our lives. We catch a thread of the plot and begin to follow it, receiving the good news that God is gracious, receiving the sacraments of God’s action in our actual lives. And then we bump into another story and are thrown off balance; distracted, we stumble. Safe, we think, in the company of God’s people, we’re tripped by a moralist and sent sprawling, we’re seduced by a secularist and defrauded. We’re in Ziklag.
Disillusioned, we go off on our own and cultivate a pure spirituality uncontaminated by religious hucksters and hypocrites. But eventually if we’re honest and reading our Bibles honestly, we find we can’t do it. We can’t survive in the wilderness alone. We need others, and we need a leader. And then we begin to get it: God’s purposes are worked out most profoundly when we’re least aware of them. Spirituality most of the time doesn’t look like spirituality, or at least what the moralists and secularists told us it was supposed to look like. Sometimes all we can see is David serving Achish of Gath and leading a company of moral and social ragamuffins in Ziklag.
Every time I move to a new community, I find a church close by and join it–committing myself to worship and work with that company of God’s people. I’ve never been anything other than disappointed: every one turns out to be biblical, through and through: murmerers, complainers, the faithless, the constant, those plagued with doubt and riddled with sin, boring moralizers, glamourous secualizers. Every once in a while a shaft of blazing beauty seems to break out of nowhere and illuminate these companies, and then I see what my sin-dulled eyes had missed: word of God–shaped, Holy Spirit-created lives of sacrificial humility, incredible courage, heroic virtue, holy praise, joyfull suffering, constant prayer, pervsevering obedience. I see “Christ–for Christ plays in ten thousand places,/Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his/To the Father through the features of men’s faces.”
And in Ziklag, of all places.
Page 99-101 Leap Over a Wall