Lent 4, Friday, Year A

Inspired by 1 Samuel 15:22-31

“Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.  Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.  Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.’” 1 Samuel 15:24-26 (NRSV)

It seems so easy to say, “Just obey God and everything will be fine.”  But choosing to obey God means choosing to reject many of the things the world values, and willfully engaging in such rejection brings consequences.  In fact, obeying God is often a guarantee that everything will not be fine: you will insult your friends and neighbors and question or condemn popular practices and social norms.  Sometimes the most effective way to keep our lives peaceful and conflict-free is to reject the commandment of God and instead go along with what the world demands.

Of course, this too has consequences.  God’s commandments are in place to ensure justice and dignity for all, and as fewer and fewer people follow those commandments, justice and dignity become less and less a part of our world.  God’s commandments are eternal and unchanging, while the world has many different ideas about how things should be done.  We can please God by obeying him, but we will never please the world.

If we choose the ways of the world over the ways of God, God will respect that choice.  And we will be left with a fickle and demanding taskmaster who will never be satisfied with our obedience or recognize our worth.  But if we choose to obey God and accept the rejection of the world, then we can rest confident in the knowledge that whatever consequences the world may inflict on us, God’s love is stronger, and he will never forsake or abandon us.

Let us pray.  Lord of wisdom, your ways are not our ways.  Grant us the courage to remain steadfast in your word, that we can proclaim your justice and your love in this chaotic world.  Through Christ our Lord, Amen.