Sunday, May 22, 2016

Why Bother with God? 1 Kings 17:1-7

Rev. George Miller
May 22, 2016
1 Kings 17:1-7

Ever wonder what it was like to be a baby? To be a young innocent whose every need is attended too?

When you cry, you’re held. When you go to the bathroom, your butt is wiped. When you’re hungry, you’re fed.

In order to eat, you don’t have to do anything. You’re guided to the breast or the bottle. Or you’re put in a seat and someone places the food into your mouth using a spoon and making silly noises like “choo-choo”.

Sometimes it seems like life would be so much better if we can each be spoon fed.

After a long day at work, or a hot day in the sun, and you can come inside, and sit down. You don’t have to lift your arms; you don’t have to hold a thing.

You don’t have to shop, cook, or prepare. Someone else spoons the food into your mouth and lulls you to sleep with silly sounds or a lullaby.

Sometimes that’s how we want our faith to be; sometimes we just want to be spoon fed.

Told what to believe; assured that the world is good. That ultimately everyone is nice and God’s always fair.

Sometimes we just want to be given all the answers. Hear a sermon in which everything is left nice and tidy.

Have a great worship in which you leave saying “We had church today!” You feel great. Feel beautiful, loved, and blessed.

Knowing that it’s all good cause it’s all God.

But truthfully, real, mature worship, and real, mature faith isn’t always like that.

Real, mature faith isn’t about being spoon fed, it’s not about being given all the answers.

Real, mature faith isn’t like that.

Scripture isn’t always like that.

God isn’t always like that.

Example- today is Trinity Sunday in which we’re supposed to talk about how there is only 1 God, but God is 3 persons.

1-in-3, 3-in-1.

But ain’t nobody got time for that, and I can barely articulate what the Trinity’s about.

Another example is today’s reading. What the heck!?!

It seems abbreviated; it’s shorter than most. It feels unfinished and leaves one hanging, waiting for a resolution.

Not to mention, today’s reading is not part of the suggested Lectionary, which means that unless you read the Bible on your own (or your pastor preaches about it), you’d never encounter this story from the pulpit.

Just what is this story about?

It’s about as king. A king who is willing to compromise himself and his kingdom by worshipping a different god, a god named Baal who supposedly controls the rain and makes things grow.

This story is about a prophet, a prophet who comes out of nowhere, with no known pedigree or training, who confronts the king and tells him there will be neither morning dew nor afternoon rain until he says so.

This story is about Yahweh, the God of Israel; the God of the king and of the prophet and of the people.

But do we like how God is portrayed here?

How do you feel hearing that because the king worshipped another god that the Lord was willing to put a hold on all precipitation for three years?

This just didn’t mean no rain, but no dew, no sleet, and no snow.

Doesn’t God seem just a bit extreme, perhaps even obsessed?

How do you feel hearing that because Elijah spoke on God’s behalf, he’s now becomes an enemy of the state and he’s told he has to turn eastward and go back the way his ancestors came?

How do you feel hearing that because Elijah did just as he was told, that he is now all alone, outside the city, sipping muddy water from a wadi, his only source of companionship are filthy, messy, squawking birds that bring him meat and bread?

And where did this meat come from, and what kind is it? Are we talking filet mignon or eye of newt and kidney of possum?

If the king is an example of what it means to upset God, why bother?

If Elijah is an example of what it means to obey God, why bother?

According to this story, either you’ll be in the palace starving, or you’ll be outside the city eating take-out from unclean birds.

And what message should you leave church with today?

Does God curse an entire nation of men, women, children and animals based on the actions of their leader?

According to today’s reading- yes.

Does God get jealous and throw temper tantrums when God doesn’t get all the attention?

According to today’s reading- yes.

Does God withdraw life-giving things like rain even if it means families will starve, rivers will dry up, and grass will wither away?

According to today’s reading- yes…

…Is God able to provide even in times of dire need and distress?


Is God able to deliver in ways we could never expect or anticipate?


Is God able to work through people, places, weather, animals, and historical events to bring about deliverance?


For every seemingly bad thing today’s scripture says about God, there’s a seemingly good thing that is said.

For every seemingly good thing today’s scripture says about God, there’s a seemingly bad thing.

So…why bother?

Why bother with God?

Why bother with scripture?

Why bother with faith?

Welcome to the most complex and most elemental aspect of being a believer.

Here we are, talking openly and honestly about faith, in which I can’t spoon feed you, and you can’t be given all the answers.

As they say, “Faith is not faith until it’s all you have left.”

Why bother with faith?

Sometimes faith is the only thing that keeps us going.

Sometimes faith is the only thing that keeps us moving ahead.

Sometimes faith is the only reason we have to get up in the morning and fall asleep at night.

Faith keeps us in conversation with our Creator.

Faith keeps us humble, because we don’t know all the answers.

Faith keeps us strong, even when we are at our weakest.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a baby?

It’s about not knowing. It’s about trusting. It’s about depending on others. It’s about learning, growing, crying, and laughing.

It’s about crawling and trying to walk. It’s about bumping your head and unexpected spills.

It’s about entering the mystery of not knowing what’s ahead.

Today we may leave worship feeling more confused than when we entered. Today we may leave not sure of what we learned.

But may we leave feeling comfort in knowing that we don’t have to know it all, and that we are not expected to.

Let us leave with the mystery of God and the knowledge that we have all of eternity to wonder and to learn, and to ask our questions.

Amen and amen.

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