Still Standing Against the Crowd (Lent 26-2014)

For any of us who have ever been called to stand against the crowd, we know what a frightening and uncomfortable place that can be.

SGL 26 2014Where are you Samuel against the crowdIt can be humiliating, being a name in the newspaper that people identify with fanatic, zealot, or kook.  It can be embarrassing, having people ostracize you and your family and slink away from you or hide behind shelves at the grocery store so they aren’t seen associating with you.

It can be heartbreaking, knowing that people are talking about you behind your back and in front of people who formerly would have called you “friend”…

…that is, before you became such a controversial figure.

But now you’re too dangerous.

Your very presence might cause some really good Holy Spirit agitation or conscience poking.  You don’t even have to say anything.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t always need you to speak…only to BE.  You enter a room and everyone’s already got an opinion even if you haven’t said a word.

I’ve been there.  Those statements are not a figment of an overactive or paranoid imagination.  That has been part of my life.  So I have great sympathy for those with a more prophetic call in serving God.  Oh, we are not prophets in the OT sense or even in the NT sense of John the Baptist, but there remains a gift of the Spirit and a call for some of us to stand against the crowd and to speak the uncomfortable Word.

Still standing against the crowd.  Speaking the uncomfortable Word.  Being a light–a vastly imperfect one–whom God places in the darkness of a world going to hell in a hand-basket.  To reach out and try to persuade some!  To preach the hard truth…in love…to people who oftentimes would rather not hear it.  To exhibit—by our very existence—the evidence to the contrary of traditions and beliefs commonplace in theological circles and to receive criticism by the status quo.  No one chooses this or willingly selects this role.  We’re compelled and so we do it.  We don’t have many friends.  It’s hard to love people like us.

Samuel—the bridge between the judges, prophets, and priests—had a tough row to hoe.   He was at first a priest working under Eli.  It was while he was ministering before the LORD that he received his call to be a prophet.  Prophets aren’t winners of popularity contests.

In 1 Samuel 8, we see that being a judge or a prophet is not hereditary.  The people…the crowd…came to Samuel, told him that his sons were no good, and demanded a king.

1 Samuel 8:6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”

God knew what He was dealing with.  He even told them what a king would do so the crowd would not be acting in ignorance (1 Samuel 8:8- 17).

1 Samuel 8:18 “When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

People can be really stubborn. 

People can act in really stupid ways and be led to believe really harmful things. 

People can be unequivocally brazen in their unbelief and rebellion against God.

Be Still.  It’s not a reflection on you, preacher.

Be Still.  I know where your heart is and I know where their hearts are.

Be Still.  I know it’s not easy being unpopular.

Be Still and Know that I AM God.  Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Be Still and Know that I AM God.  John 15:20 “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”

Questions for reflection:

  1. How do you react to people when it becomes clear they have a calling that makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t jibe with your pre-understanding?
  2. Is there a distinction between people who take on the role of intentionally being uncomfortable to be around (e.g. unloving, unpleasant, finger-pointing people who pass judgment right-and-left) versus those whose words from the Bible arouse a discomfort or a sense of conviction?  How would you describe Jesus’ role?
  3. How can you tell the difference between self-appointed Bible thumpers and those God has gifted for speaking hard truths?
  4. If you are equally beloved by the world and by the church how might that be good?  How might it not be good?

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on April 3, 2014

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