I Know That Story

*Originally published January 19,2018

The Old Testament passage had been announced: I Samuel 3:1-20. My quick prayer was that I would receive the familiar story in a new way.

Samuel was dedicated to God by his parents, Hannah and Elkanah. As a small child he was put into the care of the priest Eli at Shiloh. One night, three times, God called Samuel by name. But since God’s word had not yet been revealed to Samuel, each time God called Samuel went to Eli, presenting himself for service.

After the third calling, Eli discerned that God was speaking and instructed Samuel to reply, “Speak, God, your servant is listening.”

God’s message is tough. God pronounced judgment on Eli’s two sons. The text calls them scoundrels. They treated offerings to God with contempt (I Samuel 2:17). The sons would die; the house of Eli would suffer a crushing blow from which it could not recover.

I was listening to the reading. I knew the story. Then came the new hearing. God told Samuel that his sons were blaspheming and Eli “did not restrain them” (I Samuel 3:13).

This is a story of ignoring God. Old and New Testament stories are plentiful in warnings from God, for the good of the people, usually given first to prophets. Since I don’t believe God delights in zapping us, I believe that God wants us to clean up our act before judgment-time. Ezekiel is called a watchman. It is important to note that if people ignore the message, the prophet is not held responsible.

There are people now who are sounding an alarm. Yet the effect is being muted. Leadership is faltering. Our elected officials have a moral duty to speak out, to warn, to restrain. Instead of alarm bells, we are hearing the sirens of self-interest. Many members of Congress are making excuses, staying silent, using evasive descriptions, or claiming amnesia about the behavior of Mr. Trump. The latest episode was on Thursday, January 11, 2018 denigrating the un-whites of the world. If it were the first indication of Mr. Trump’s feelings, one might believe it was an aberrant comment. But it is not.

I am angry about what was said and equally angry at the lack of integrity of elected officials. They should be held accountable. But each of has the duty to speak against the cancerous behavior that is growing in our country.

We must not be silent. That is challenging, even frightening. It is even harder to speak the truth with love (Ephesians 4:15).

About what, or for whom, do you need to speak the truth as we grow into the likeness of Christ? It doesn’t have to be an issue splashed across media. It may be in a casual conversation or an injustice observed. Speak up. Speak out for the well-being of others.

About Louise Stowe-Johns

I'm a writer,
a mediator,
a pastor,
an educator,
a lover of the arts,
a wife,
a mother,
and on occasion,
a pot stirrer.

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