We’re back with another edition of Monday Morning Pastor, and we begin the year reviewing another sermon preached by Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church. The sermon is titled “Get Back In The Gate”. As always, I encourage you to watch the sermon first and form your own conclusions before you see mine.
The church service began with what seemed like a full scale concert, singing and rocking out for close to 40 minutes before starting the message. After all the singing Mr. Furtick came out, sang a little, gave a prayer, and started the message. For those aren’t familiar with Pastor Furtick’s background, he was a former worship leader before starting his church. That background would seem to give him an awareness of the seductive power of ambience. In other words, the ability to create an atmosphere that makes a certain feeling you want from people more possible.
2 Samuel 19
Pastor Furtick instructs the audience to turn to 2 Samuel 19 and looks at a part of the life of David. He instructs the audience that people see a different David from 1 Samuel. His confidence is shaken after the death of his son Absalom. He points back to 2 Samuel 18:33 which states, “The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”
He then turns to 2 Samuel 19:2 which states, “2 The victory that day was turned to mourning for all the people, for the people heard it said that day, “The king is grieved for his son.” Pastor Furtick notes that David is experiencing mourning in a time of victory. He concludes David was lacking in an ability to process the situation. That David defeated the enemy, but was sad about what he lost, and his focus is so narrow he’s about to miss what he has.
Gift of confrontation
Mr. Furtick uses 2 Samuel 19:5 where Joab speaks to David about him covering with shame the faces of all his servants to express the thought, ”Thank God for people who say stuff you don’t like to hear”, which brought an applause from the audience. He expresses that the “gift of confrontation” is greater than the “gift of comfort”. Just as a side note, I’m always confused when people state something is a “gift of” when it’s not stated in scripture. As far as I know, there’s no such thing as a “gift of confrontation” or a “gift of comfort”.
2 Samuel 19:6 where Joab tells David he’s loving those who hate him, and hating those who love him, Furtick believes emphasizes people chasing after things that are walking away. He instructs the audience to tell their neighbors to “get back in the gate!” and that David is an example of an inability to sustain confidence with faulty character.
Dealing with dysfunction
He concludes dysfunction didn’t stop God from using David, it was how he chose to deal with his dysfunction, and that the same applies to people. David piled shame on his disobedience with Bathsheba by having Bathsheba’s husband killed rather than choosing to receive grace, but God still was going to give him grace, but it was going to come with consequences. “You can pick your decisions, but you can’t pick your consequences!” Furtick proclaims.
Furtick discusses his father
He states the greatest trouble in David’s life was being passive. His battle with Absalom occurred because he didn’t deal with it “at the gate”. Furtick then remarks he wishes he could talk to his father in heaven. And how he wishes he could say I get it now with raising his own kids. He expresses how his dad went out drinking in his teenage years. He thought his father was a bad father because he committed suicide, but he understands he just didn’t know how to do it. Furtick expresses that he loves his wife more than anything that anyone in the audience loves including Jesus.
That statement struck me as a little bit odd, but to continue, Furtick expresses in spite of that he fantasizes about going away from his family. He concludes responsibility makes a person want to walk away. That people walk away because they don’t know if they have what it takes. “There’s a danger of disengagement, walking away from what God gave you because you don’t know how to handle it.”, Furtick states.
He then throws out what he states are historical facts about the significance of gates at those times. Furtick transitions from discussing what he expresses are historical facts about outer gates into people having outer gates for appearances, and that the inner gates are people’s actions.
He makes note of how the King took his seat in the gateway in 2 Samuel 8:19. He suggests people live in ways that support their ego but refuse to acknowledge issues that sabotage their souls. Furtick goes on to explain that between the gates there would be buying, selling and negotiation… maintaining of justice. He asserts that a bunch of significant things in scripture happened between gates and that David doing that was him saying his heart was broken, but like Arnold Swarzenegger, he was also saying “I’m back!” At this point the crowd begins erupting in thunderous applause.
Furtick expresses, “Picture thousands of people getting up from the shame of their lives and taking their stands at the gate, entering with thanksgiving and saying I’m back” He continues saying, “Telling the devil and condemnation, I’m back!” “Don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring, but I’m back!” Continually shouting I’m back with an organ playing in the back and a crowd roaring with applause.
“I’m back in position, I’m back in purpose, get back in the gate!”
“I’m hurting but I’m here!”
He notes that all of David’s men came to him, waiting with weapons as he took his place and that from that one knows “Your weapons won’t come until you take your place.” He goes on to express everyone can stand at the gate of change. When you get back in the gate, everything you need comes to you.
He quotes Isaiah 28:6 stating, “He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, strength to those who turn back to the battle at the gate”. He concludes defeats happen in one’s life fighting at the wrong place. ”This is not self-help”, Furtick states.
He concludes that if David dealt with Absalom at the gate, Absalom wouldn’t have had to die. “The time to turn the devil back is at the gate” “The time to turn depression back is at the gate.” At the conclusion of the message he mentions plans to teach about the gates over the next couple of weeks. He closes with an emotional prayer calling the audience to raise their hands in the air, as he speaks in a whispery tone for emphasis. And the band starts singing again with the sound rising as Furtick speaks over the music, and the crowd cheers.
My final thoughts
It was a bit of a challenge to summarize the message Pastor Furtick gave, as he can speak at such a frenetic pace at times it’s hard to keep up with the line of thinking. I wonder to myself if that’s all intentional. I don’t think most people sitting inside the church would have time to really analyze if what they’re hearing had substance and accurate truth there unless they were typing these things down as I did. I think it’s easy to just get lost in the charisma of Mr. Furtick and you’re only take away from the message ends up being the motivational buzz lines he threw out and that it sounded like a very inspiring sermon. It seems like a good way to get one’s fill of feeling good for a moment perhaps, and maybe even a masterful way of hooking people into needing to come back the next week to get that feeling again.
But to sit down as I am right now, and to summarize and review this as I’m doing, I think it’s fair to question whether any of this could be understood as truth at all. We can all take a story in scripture like David’s and the events that happened with Absalom, and assume whatever message we want out of it. But the ideas assumed by Mr. Furtick about this story aren’t directly stated in there. All we know is that the verses pointed to were a part of the story of what happened with David after Absalom’s death.
It may sound good to say to someone, everything will get better if you stand at the gate of change, but does that really help them other than getting them to feel good for a moment? It’s a genuine and sincere question I have. I think it’s good to want to inspire hope in people, but that hope shouldn’t be in things changing in your life for the better if you just do X, which in the case of this sermon is “standing at the gate of change”. The hope in scripture is that we’re renewed from our sinful ways through Christ and have a hope for a life greater than the challenges we’ll face in this life, which we’re going to face no matter what we do. And that through focus on that, and living in honor to God, we’ll have peace to sustain us through the good times which God may bless us with, and the bad times which God may allow for His purpose.
But perhaps to say that would be too much of a gift of confrontation.
Peace to you all in Christ.