7.23.2009

Proper 12

2 Samuel 11.1-15
Psalm 14
Ephesians 3.14-21
John 6.1-21

Robert Fulghum writes that as a school teacher he wore two buttons on his jacket. One said, "Question Authority" and the other said "Think for Yourself."

[SIDE NOTE: There is likely a lot of sociological work to be done trying to understand the impact on children and their successes and failures in life if they are taught these mantras early in life...in fact, we have been noticing in our own circles some of the fallout that can happen as a result. As lay-sociologists our completely untrained hypothesis is that when this mentality is given to children early in life it has a noticeable impact on an individual's ability to respect the experience of others.....but all of this is getting off topic!]

Question Authority.
Think For Yourself.

These mantras are often liberating for folks who have never been invited to think for themselves or to question authority. Many of us (in varying degrees and in varying facets of our lives) look for leaders that we can trust and that lead in ways where we don't have to spend as much effort Thinking for Ourselves on every single detail of life. It seems we are naturally drawn to find people we can trust. Many of us desire leaders we can follow.

The military and many companies (and many families) are built on the opposite of these premises--Do Not Question Authority, and Someone Else Will Do the Thinking For You.

Alas, some leaders cannot be completely trusted. Some authorities need to be questioned and even corrected.

This week we continue following the story of King David. This passage from 2 Samuel gives us an ugly example of Bad Leadership and an Unquestioning Follower.

Most of us are familiar with the story of David and Bathsheba--he sees her bathing, invites her to his place, the put on some nice music, become "familiar" with one another, she becomes pregnant, and David (King of the army) has her husband Uriah (a member of David's army) killed. Now the story shows David attempting to cover his tracks by having Uriah come home from the battlefield and "visit" his wife, but Uriah refuses. Why? Well, we could certainly use our imaginations and guess that maybe Uriah and Bathsheba didn't have that great of a marriage in the first place....or maybe Uriah was dealing with some physical problems...or perhaps they had chosen to not have kids and focus on their careers; but the scriptural account does not tell it that way. It tells us Uriah would not go home and spend time with his wife because he was committed to his role in the army and didn't want to do anything that would let his peers, his leader, or his commander (King David) down. Uriah was Unquestioningly Committed to following David wherever he commanded. And it turned out, at least in this instance, David (Uriah's leader, the leader of the Army, and the King of God's chosen people) was not to be trusted.

In the Psalm this week we find a writer (possibly David himself) who is unquestioningly committed to God and the leadership of God. He is committed to the right judgment of God and he is committed to believing 100% there is no better side to be on than the side of God.

In the passage from John we see lots and lots of people leaving their homes and roaming the countryside to follow Jesus. These folks have every reason to believe that following Jesus is nothing but benefit. Suddenly the disciples realize that there are thousands of people that have followed them to a remote field and there is not enough supplies to feed all of these people. When Jesus (their leader) asks them what they are going to do they look at him with uncertainty and disbelief. In other accounts of this story there are more responses of disbelief...they assume Jesus is off of his first century rocker. And then, as Jesus is wont to do, he comes through with a miraculous feeding of thousands with some simple loaves and fishes. And the disciples find themselves again realizing they should trust Jesus and follow his leadership.

The passage from Ephesians shows Paul echoing some of the same type of sentiments found in the Psalm. Paul is explaining to the followers in Ephesus why and how he is sooooo committed to following the leadership of Jesus. There is no question in his mind that this is the right thing to do. Following the leadership of Christ is the thing that gives him the chance to grow and develop more than he can ever imagine.

- How do you balance "trusting your leaders" with "questioning authority"?
- Do you unconditionally trust God? Is it Wise or Foolish to do so? Is it Easy or Hard to do so?

God...
Most of the time we want to trust You,
and often we do not.
We want to be able to trust those around us,
and often we cannot.
We want to, at the very least, trust ourselves,
and often we have a hard time with that too.
We have too many times had trust broken
and broken trust.
Forgive us where we have misled others.
Help us as we attempt to forgive those who have
misled us.
We pray to know your Grace and Peace
deep down inside us.
Amen.

© matt & laura norvell 2009 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Peace be with you.

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