Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Eli's sons in 1 Samuel 2:12-26 and the Deadly Temptations of Ministry...


The old whalf lamps along princes whalf
in auckland with the Sky tower casino in the
back ground. I've called this image which light?
which light will be guided by?
AS I was doing my regular daily bible readings today I came across the sad story of Eli's sons in 1 Samuel 2:12-26. Eli the priest had served Israel for many years and his sons had started to also minister, however as we read this account of their activities it turns from a man who knows God and honours him to two people who abuse their power in the areas of wealth and sexual misconduct. They took the best portions from the offerings given to the Lord, when questioned they used extreme standover tactics and abused the power they had been given, and as news came to an aged Eli who seemed not to have the energy anymore to confront them, that they were sleeping with women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting (I wonder if it was a consensual or if this as well wasn't an abuse of power).

My first thought was you know some things sadly never change. People in the church in positions of power and authority are always tempted by the three deadly temptations (In a Harry Potter kind of moment you could even say the deadly hallows of Ministry): Power, money and sex.

The passage that really struck me was "this sin of the young men was very great in the Lord's sight, for they were treating the Lord's offering with contempt" sadly (and I maybe overusing this word in this post but it is the one that fits) we see that there are people in ministry today who still do that.... They see money given to God and the purposes of God out of gratitude for what God has done for them as a personal slush fund, an entitlement. I wonder if Eli's sons didn't have some good well rounded theology to justify what they did... they definitely would name it and claim it... and if you got in the way well they were going to take it anyway. Recently we've heard of large ministries where the senior pastors have been stood down because of the abusive way they have treated staff and those who disagree with them or question them. It's a more subtle temptation that the other two but can be more devastating to those who are abused by it. AS for sex we'll all branches of the church find themselves saddened and maddened by the various sex scandals and abuses that have happened by people in positions of trust.

I looked for hope in this passage and I guess I found it in the fact that God will raise up you leaders who know the Lord and hold onto the truth. Samuel is the leader who will hear God and listen to him, and whom God uses to bring renewal and transformation in Israel. He's not perfect but he is used by God to bring about the change from 'the end of judges 'where everyone did what was right in their own eyes' to the monarchy in David who worked to see the covenant work its justice out in Israel... and yes even he fell to the deadly temptations... sadly.

God will raise up new apostolic leaders to bring renewal in a church that is compromised and idolatrous. Ultimately we see that in Jesus coming to fulfil the scriptures of the Old Testament and who came to serve not to be served and gave his life up for us.

There is also hope in Eli's behaviour in Samuel 1 and 3 where he is willing to see the error of his ways, and repent... In Samuel 1 he gets angry with Samuel's mother Hannah when he sees her praying with mumbled words in the temple and thinks she is drunk. He is aware he is wrong and backtracks by then blessing her and praying for her.

Then in Samuel 3 he is willing to see God's choosing and anointing of a new leader in Samuel and be willing to step back and encourage them to grow even though it means that his own plans for succession, his own sons are overlooked.

It speaks to us of humility and openness to God and correction that I believe is a good buttress to the deadly temptations of money, sex and power. Sadly for some it is too late and they simply will have to be removed for ministry and for others hopefully there is the openness to the Christ walked road of humility...

No comments:

Post a Comment