Something Is Wrong In Here
One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ But the olive tree answered, “Should I give up my olive oil? It’s used to honor gods and people alike. Should I give up just to rule over the trees?'”
I’ve read two very different scriptures in one day: The first is Jotham’s Parable in Judges Chapter nine. The second John three. They go together in an oddly striking way.
The parable starts like this: The trees looked for a ruler. They went to the olive trees Will you rule over us? What? And give up producing the most needed olive to rule over you? No! It is not worth it.
Next they went to the fig tree. Will you rule over us? What? The fig tree laughed at the other trees. And give up producing this lovely fruit to rule over you? No way! It’s not worth it!
Then, getting desperate I suppose, they go the grapevine. Shall I give up making this wonderful wine? To rule over you? It laughed. “No!” And waxed eloquent in its refusal, I would imagine.
Not being wise enough to get the message the trees approached the thrornbush. And the thornbush, being already somewhat envious of the trees, and also remaining true to its nature said: “Me rule over you? Me rule over the mighty trees? Why, it would be my pleasure!”
In the English Standard Version, verse 15 reads “Do you really want to anoint me as king over you? If you do, come and rest in my shade. But if you do not, I will destroy you!”
The Jotham parable was warning the ancient people against unwise choices of leaders, and choose to follow him over God. They assumed every new idol or religion they encountered was the new answer. And they followed anyone who consented to rule over them.
Jotham’s parable to us today would go like this: Christians wanted a king they could understand, so they went to the good things God has created and asked, “Will you become our central theology and ruling doctrines. But the good things from God reply to our question, “What? Me be your king and queen? We’re too busy creating more good!”
And we go to good works who says: “What? I’m just too busy. I can’t take time for administration of the law.”
And meditation says: “It is merely my place to advise.”
And so we run to all the good things God has allowed us: Technology says, “No, but I’ll help you organize and share it.” Service to others paused, really wanting to rule, then stayed true to its nature and said: “The right thing for the wrong reason does not last.”
We go on till we find passion, obsession, reason or enlightenment, who look at each other in delight. “Oh yes! We will rule. Gladly we will drive you and coax you, and tell you how to live.”
And we say, “Finally, someone to take charge.”
God sighs. And the evil one is delighted.
So I pray: God, Help me make you Lord and ruler in my life and not substitute ease and touchability for the harder work of following you.
There’s Something Wrong In Here
John 3: 21 (ESV)
But anyone who lives by the truth comes into the light. He does this so that is will be easy to see what he has done with God’s help.
We repent of our faulty choices. We start anew. Things go along well. We are driven to be and do good. We see some good things happen, and hope for the best. But in the end we realize it’s not enough.
Our choices haven’t changed. We return to our selfish need to have things all laid out in front of us and follow the path of less resistance. Somewhere in the middle of the next mess we find ourselves in, we put our hand to our chest and admit, “Something is wrong in here.”
Ah, enter John chapter three: those universal words of love given by the creator whose very nature is love and is expressed in constant giving. And when we respond to …God so loved ….he gave… we not only rediscover eternal life, we find the One God who will not turn into a faulty ruler.
God, as king provides the framework for us to hang the good things he gives us, the tools he provides, and the work he calls us to. In the end God is much more a king who we allow to become director, a mentor, a person whose kingship is one of love rather than the self-centered rule of a thornbush king.
So I pray: God, help me remember your kingship is based on love for all those you created and care for. Help me never forget others who would be my king are driven by their need to be in control.