You Don’t Always Get What You Want…
Sometimes, when we get what we want, we discover it wasn’t what we wanted after all. This was the experience of Israel with their kings.
Wanting a strong problem-solving man for the nation
In 1st Samuel 8, the people want a king. They want a strong man who will make things happen and solve problems for which the judges seem ill-equipped to handle. The people want a king just like all the other nations. Things just aren’t getting done and they are frustrated!
The warning about kings, prime ministers, and presidents
Samuel, the judge of all Israel, warns the people that having a king may bring some unintended consequences: “(The king you ask for) will take your sons, and will use them for his chariots and his cavalry and as runners for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks or bakers. He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his servants. He will give one-tenth of your grain and your vineyards to his officials and servants. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and then you yourselves will become his slaves! When that day comes, you will cry out, but on that day the Lord won’t answer you.” (1 Samuel 8, selected verses)
The old judge knows that sometimes you start out with the best of intentions, but then things go wrong. You end up someplace you never intended to go! Samuel knows power is intoxicating. When people get power they sometimes want to do two things: use it to their own advantage and hold onto it forever.
Kings, prime ministers, and presidents can end up thinking it’s all about them.
We the people
Our forefathers must have nodded in agreement at the words of Samuel. If I remember my American history, the revolution was sparked by several core convictions.
Those who led the separation from England were convinced of the high priority of freedom and the truth that all men are created equal. (For too long our leaders and people did not understand “all” meant all people are created equal…including persons of color, women, and those who were not land owners.)
They were highly suspicious of kings and strong men. They knew the addictiveness of power and they knew those elected to serve can often end up demanding we serve them.
Finally, they were confident we would do better together than apart. So they used the phrase “we the people.” Our founding fathers and mothers knew if each group or region pursued its own selfish goals with no thought for the welfare of the whole, we would be in trouble. They knew if mistrust of one another replaced our basic trust, we would be in trouble. (Recent polls in America now show that not only do we not trust government or other major institutions, but we have declining trust in one another. People on both sides of the political divide increasingly distrust one another.)
The words “we the people” and “in order to form a more perfect union” still have power today. The founding generation knew all about the danger of giving great power to one person or one small group.
The way all will be well
God decides to give the people the king they demand. Through Samuel (1st Samuel 12:13-15) we see that God reminds the people the only way civil government will work is if they remember to, “fear the Lord, worship him, obey him, and not rebel against the Lord’s command.” Not only the citizens, but the king himself must remember to “follow the Lord your God.”
This means leaders must always remember they are accountable to a higher power. God’s way of justice, God’s way of caring for the orphan and stranger, God’s way of feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger, God’s way of compassion and forgiveness, must be at the agenda’s core or things will go badly.
This week an article by Washington Post columnist, David Ignatius, asked the question, “What happens when the whole world becomes selfish?” He points out that pursuing a purely selfish agenda — personally or as a nation — can lead to disastrous results.
Here is the thing: when leaders rule with humility, doing the right thing by following the truth of God and the values we find in places like Micah 6 and Matthew 25, the nation is strong and things “work.”
We give thanks
For the dream of freedom
For the enduring power of the concept of “we the people”
For those who have worked, marched, bled and died to form “a more perfect union.”
Let us speak and live in ways to strengthen our union, recognizing all of us together are “the people.” Let us remind every prime minister, president, and king that there is a higher power whose truth works best.
See you Sunday as we tell the story of “The Rise & Fall of a Reluctant King.” Join us as we sing great hymns, pray together, explore the story of King Saul, and celebrate around one, open table the grace of God through the Lord’s Supper.
Thank you to all who have given gifts and made pledges to “excel.” We are moving past $93,000 on our way towards our goal of $100,000. What an amazing, generous community you are!
Watch for more information about Pastor Teri Crouse, as well as our new Director of Children’s & Family Ministries and our Director of Youth & Young Adults.
Grace and peace,
New Associate Pastor
Rev. Teri Crouse, our new Associate Pastor, will be with us soon. Please take a moment and send her a welcome note. Tell her something about yourself, about our church, and about Bloomington (perhaps even including a gift card to your favorite local store or restaurant). Mail or drop off your cards to our church office at: Rev. Teri Crouse, c/o First Methodist, 219 E 4th St, Bloomington, IN 47404
Attention Parents & Teens!
Don’t stay inside all summer!
View our updated list of Summer Youth Events…
Download the First Methodist Summer Youth Schedule 2017. Print it out. Hang it on the fridge. Then come join the Summer Fun!
This week we’re continuing our sermon series, THE STORY. If you don’t yet have your own copy of THE STORY, you can purchase one from the church office for $10 or order online here. If you’re interested in going deeper, the Adult Companion Guide is also available.