Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

January 9, 2018

Today may be a good day to talk about annoying people. 

          Unfortunately, often times these are the folks who care about us most.  I’ll get around to that in a moment.

          Once upon a time, back in the day, two kings were sitting around chatting.  There was peace in the valley, all was at rest, no conflict or anything and these two geniuses decided to improve on this.

          So, King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahab of Israel decided it was time to run up to Ramoth Gilead and open up a can on the king of Aram and take his land…just because. 

Why not?  Can we say, “Pride goeth before a fall?”

          These two kings reasoned that the land belonged to them and they’d just run on up to Aram and start a war to get it back.  Beforehand though, Jehoshaphat mentioned to Ahab that it would probably be a good idea to consult the Lord before doing this.

          Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the Lord here whom we can inquire of (1 Kings 22:7 NIV)?”

          And, you will just love Ahab’s reply, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah (1 Kings 22:8 NIV).”

          In other words, “I hate this guy because he never tells me anything I want to hear!”

          Yes, indeed!  Annoying people!  And, often times these are the folks who care about us most.

          Micaiah loved the Lord, Judah and Israel.  He only reported what the Lord had said to him.  But instead of listening to Micaiah, Ahab preferred to kill the messenger.

          Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

          In other words, “If you go into battle with the king of Aram, you will get a real beat-down!”

          So, what did Ahab do? 

           “This is what the king says: ‘Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely (1 Kings 1 22:27 NIV).’”

          And, you and I can see what’s coming a mile off!  They got a real beat-down!  The king of Aram beat the tar out of them.

          Moving right along, back in the day Peter and Paul did not get along so well.  We are told that Peter came to Antioch and refused to eat with some Gentiles.  (Everyone who is not a Jew is a Gentile.)

          We are told that Peter’s reasoning for not eating with the Gentiles was because he was afraid of what the other Jews might think or do (Galatians 2:12 & 13).  Well, Paul let him have it! 

          “The other Jews joined him (Peter) in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.  When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs (Galatians 2:13-14 NIV)?’”

          In other words, “Peter, you and Barnabas are acting like hypocrites!  You two need to straighten up!” 

“We are done with the whole rule-keeping act because it does not save!  We now live for God!  Jesus died for nothing if the Law could save.  All you are doing is driving a wedge between the Jews and the non-Jews (Galatians 2:17-21)!”

          Paul loved Christ and the church that was evolving!  Not even Peter would stand in the way of that.  Shall we say that Paul opened up a can on Peter that day and gave him an attitude adjustment?

          So, we are back to annoying people again!  And, much of the time they are the folks who care about us most…who want the best for us…who have the courage to assist in helping us adjust when we step off the path!

          But, they are so annoying! 

          And, as Ahab…often we just do not want to hear what they are saying!  Often what they say is uncomfortable and pride kicks in; and, our first response is frequently, “Who are you to tell me what to do?”

          But what if…what if we could somehow move beyond pride for just a moment and carefully weigh what our loved ones are trying to tell us?  Isn’t it possible that we might be on the verge of making a huge mistake that will cause a cascade of ripples, which will haunt us for the rest of our lives?

          Some years ago, a couple came to me to ask that I perform their wedding.  The woman was twelve years older than the man.  She also had a twelve-year-old daughter from a previous marriage

          The man was very young, in his early twenties.  The woman was approaching her mid-thirties.

          I explained to the young man that their marriage could work if he realized and understood the relationship between the mother and the daughter.  I suggested counseling. 

I mentioned that the mother and daughter had been a family of two for a very long time; and, their relational dynamic was likely to be difficult for him to understand.

          The young man and his bride-to-be became angry with me and stated bluntly that either I could marry them in the church or they would go somewhere else.  I reasoned that the best chance of a successful marriage would be for them to marry in the church and therefore have the Family of God undergirding and supporting them.

          I performed the wedding.  It may have lasted two years.

          I was that annoying person.  I do think they could have made it if they had prepared properly beforehand with some intensive counseling.  But, we just can’t make people do!

          Again, what if…what if we could somehow move beyond pride for just a moment and carefully weigh what our loved ones are trying to tell us?  To quote Fred Rogers, “God always sends helpers!  Look for the helpers!”

          Ahab locked up Micaiah and had him fed only bread and water!  That was certainly one response!  It was not a good or bright one but a response nonetheless!

          I kind of think we can do better than this!  Why not?  We are Followers of Christ!

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