by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The reading for Sunday, January 17, 2016:
1 Samuel 8: 1-20
In the passage that we'll explore on Sunday, we see the ancient Israelites demanding a king. God's prophet Samuel tells them what it will be like to have a king. At first it sounds great, a veritable jobs program. But having a king comes with a price--and a cost. The cost might be a version of taxes: a certain proportion of crops. But it will also cost them their children.
The people ignore Samuel, and here we have yet another example--not the first and certainly not the last--of God's people choosing earthly power despite the cost.
We may think that we're immune to the lure of earthly power, but I would submit that we are not. I write this on the day of the drawing of the largest Powerball give away ever--clearly earthly power, in the form of money, is quite seductive. We may dream of the great good we'd do with all that money, and perhaps we would. But frankly, it doesn't take much money to do good in the world right now. There's nothing stopping us from living like we've already won that money--nothing but our minds.
That's the problem with earthly power--it usually comes at great cost, and before we know it, our minds are enslaved. We can't dream the kinds of expansive dreams that God needs us to envision.
Let us take time to think about all the ways in which we are like those ancient Israelites. How do we desire a king that's not God? Let us think of all the visions that distract us. How have we let ourselves be shaped by what the world tells us we should want? What does God want for us?
What would happen if we turned away and remembered God's vision of what it means to be the people of God?