Time after Pentecost - Lectionary 17 (A)
In our First Testament Reading this morning, we listened to a story about Solomon, the King of Israel.
At this point, King David has just passed away and here is Solomon, David’s son, assuming the Kingly Throne of upon his father’s death. He has just become King and now he’s looking at the task at hand and (it sounds to me as if he) is overwhelmed by the hugeness of the responsibility. He says,
“I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in… And your servant is in the midst of the people…, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted…”
Now this is a familiar situation isn’t it? I mean, not becoming King of course to any of us, but realizing that the responsibilities (or life’s callings) that we wind up with (as people) seem too much for us to handle at times.
And at times like these—times which we all have faced (or that you may even be facing now in your life), there is something that is very important for us to do. In fact, according to Paul in the book of Romans, all of life’s problems amongst people have arisen precisely because of our human failure to do this one thing… What is this one thing that causes so much trouble when forgotten? It’s not a difficult thing. In fact it’s “as close to us as our hearts and the words that we speak.” You know what it is?
The simple, yet humbling act of acknowledging God. In the Book of Romans Paul writes, “For though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” This seems to be the problem that people have. And I’m not saying this so we can look down on those other people who don’t acknowledge God by coming to church. I’m saying it because every one of us struggles to acknowledge God—(it seems that often times we would rather take all the credit and/or the blame about everything and we forget that God is the author. We (as humanity) did not acknowledge God as God; did not acknowledge God’s part in the story… and we became conceited, full of ourselves and corrupted.)
We can become full of untruth—say that we can do things or that we know things that we really don’t. Like the time I got a job as a boat operator because I said, I could operate a 35 foot skiff! In hindsight, this was a very dangerous thing to do.
Now, contrast what I did with Solomon: He’s becoming King and he is scared, and sometimes fear is a great cure for our spiritual corruption. So Solomon says, “O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David…who can govern this your great people?” You see that!? Solomon acknowledges that God had as much to do with putting him in this position and that if anyone can accomplish what needs to be done, it can only happen with God’s help.
And then what does he ask for? He doesn’t pretend to know what to ask for. Rather, he asks for understanding to know what is right, not according to his plan, but according to the plan of the one who truly understands what makes for good and evil. He doesn’t ask for long life or riches or good tasting food or adventure. No, his first prayer is for God to transform him to match God’s will.
Likewise, As Christians, this should be our prayer as well. It’s what we call Justification: to be on the same page w/ God. That’s what we mean when we confess Jesus as Lord. We say, not my will but Christ’s will. This, however, is a scary prayer because when we ask for God to show us the way, it means necessarily that we will have to give up our own way/ plan/ control… and this can be problematic if not down right scary for us.
However, it is precisely what Paul is talking about, when he says (in our second reading for today) “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought (Romans 8).” We have been given as Christians a high and mighty calling to be bearers of Christ’s light and truth and Peace and love for this world of need, but often times we have no idea how to go about it. Just like Solomon, trying to take in the hugeness of his calling, we too cannot grasp all there is for us to do. “We are but children, we don’t know whether we’re coming or going.”
After I had rammed into the dock a few times with the company’s 35 foot skiff, it became quite apparent to my employer that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I deserved to loose that Job, and it was only by grace that the powers that be decided to keep my on and train me.
Brothers and sisters, this is the point of the day. It is only when we are forced to acknowledge our limits; when we like King Solomon say “Who can do this, but God?” This is precisely when the power of God in Christ becomes meaningful for our lives.
We say, “Who can follow Christ?” And we learn that the only way to follow Christ, is by God’s grace. There are a great many troubles in our world which we do not know how to cure, yet God promises to use us for Christ’s purpose. We do not earn our justification; we do not earn our role on this ship. We are only on board because Christ brought us on board by the power of the faith we have inherited. Lord, give us humility and use us to do the will of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Pastor Joshua Magyar
418 W. Main St.
Sidney, MT 59270