Unity of Belief, Freedom of Expression

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 18.12-15
12 I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. 13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!” 
15 Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.” 

1 Thessalonians 1.4-10
4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. 

Reflection: Unity of Belief, Freedom of Expression
By John Tillman

Two years ago we focused on the opposite methods of two men serving the same God: Obadiah and Elijah. They were united despite serving the same God in different ways. We pray today a prayer based on 1 Thessalonians 1.4-10 to remind us that we are brothers and sisters, called to follow Jesus even though unity in belief does not always lead to uniformity of expression.

Unity of Belief, Freedom of Expression
We pray for brothers and sisters loved by God, who do things differently than we do.
Those who vote based on one issue, those who vote based on another…
Those who draw doctrinal lines in the sand differently than we do…
Jesus has chosen us. His love and gospel unite us.

May we not hold “different” gospels or be swayed by eloquent words or human arguments.
The gospel unites us not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.

May we live among believers and unbelievers, in ways that do not serve ourselves but, instead, sacrifice ourselves for them.
May we become imitators of the greatest servants among us…
Not the greatest blowhards, those so-called “leaders”…
Not those who use words to insult, harm, and slander… 

May we imitate instead those who imitate Jesus, 
Who take a message of grace and joy to the suffering
Who put aside personal gain to offer grace
Who hold out the gospel message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Let us be a model to believers in our cities, our counties, our countries so that the Lord’s message will ring out from where we are. 

May our faith make God’s message become known everywhere. 

May our loving, gospel-centered actions speak so loudly that we hardly need to say anything about it. May the report of us be that we received well our fellow servants and the lost who are searching for the hope we have.

May we turn to God from idols, so that idol worshipers around us can see how to serve the living and true God
We can assuredly trust that he who was raised from the dead is able to rescue us from any wrath, pain, suffering, or struggle that we face.

May we do so joyfully and in unity with those also called by his name.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “Alas for you when everyone speaks well of you! This is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” — Luke 6.26

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 18 (Listen – 7:08)
1 Thessalonians 1 (Listen – 1:27)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Kings 19 (Listen – 3:53), 1 Thessalonians 2 (Listen – 2:53)
1 Kings 20 (Listen – 7:03), 1 Thessalonians 3 (Listen – 1:44)

Read more about Resisting or Assisting a Corrupt Regime?
We must remember that Obadiah and Elijah are not enemies. They are on the same side.

Read more about The Losers Who Write History
May we learn to listen to “losers” and learn what God may say through them.

Resisting or Assisting a Corrupt Regime?

Scripture Focus: 1 Kings 18.3-4
Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.

Reflection: Resisting or Assisting a Corrupt Regime?
By John Tillman

Obadiah was a government minister who was faithful to God, despite serving under a corrupt, anti-God, and explicitly evil pair of rulers. Modern readers may have difficulty deciding to either attack him for assisting or applaud him for resisting the government, depending on their point of view.

Ahab and Jezebel are legendarily evil. Jezebel’s name became a byword for an evil woman and a trope in fiction throughout history.  Even Shakespeare, who used or referenced scripture often, seems to have had an eye on Jezebel when he created the character of Lady Macbeth.

However, it is Ahab who fits the mold of the autocrats of today’s politics. He is petty, pouting, vindictive, blustering, and evil. He feigns faith in God, yet his true allegiance seems to be only to his own selfish desires and enrichment. Ahab isn’t concerned with finding food for his subjects amidst the famine, but for his animals. This is where Obadiah, who risked his life to feed people faithful to God, is found by Elijah, helping Ahab search for water to save the evil king’s animals.

It would be easy to point to Obadiah and politicize him as representing someone serving today in a modern democratic government. However, comparing the actions of those in scripture, living under tyranny, to people today, living under the many freedoms of democracy, is not a truly fair comparison.

Even in poorly functioning democracies, citizens are granted freedom of movement, freedom of choice in career and among employers, freedom of speech in supporting political parties or individuals. No person in scripture, including Obadiah, ever possessed any of these freedoms.

People of faith today have far more nuanced choices that can be made. Obadiah’s covert bravery is admirable and often necessary, even in today’s world. But in a culture where we have more freedom to do so, the world needs to see Christians more directly confronting evil, following the model of Elijah.

We must remember that Obadiah and Elijah are not enemies. They are on the same side.

No matter whether we follow Obadiah’s model of illegal, covert resistance from within, or Elijah’s more confrontive and vocal model of resistance, we must remember that no matter how tyrannical our leaders or our government, we are citizens and ambassadors from a greater kingdom and no human government, party, or leader is owed our loyalty or faithfulness.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Kings 18 (Listen – 7:08)
1 Thessalonians 1 (Listen – 1:27)

Thank You!
Thank you to our donors who support our readers by making it possible to continue The Park Forum devotionals. This year, The Park Forum audiences opened 200,000 emails with free, and ad-free, devotional content. Follow this link to join our donors with a one-time or a monthly gift.

Read more about No Princes :: Readers’ Choice
How many believers veil their trust in men as trust in God?

Read more about The Losers Who Write History
Not one of those glowingly positive, king-praising prophets’ writings are in our Bible. Instead we have the writings of the losers. The cries of the oppressed.

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.