Summary: What is it we ask God for; is it out of selfish motives or out of what God wants?
I wonder what motivates us as individuals and as a congregation? I remember doing a Kiwi Host course about twenty years ago and I found out that eight percent of the population wake up every morning motivated by the one thought on their minds and that thought is “whose life can I make miserable today?”
From that day on I recalled this every time I meet an ‘eight percenter’ and we’ve all meet them. But the interesting thing is they found it really hard to make me miserable once I knew of their existence.
As a Salvation Army Corps, as a congregation what motivates us? Is it the words of scripture, some great quote by William Booth, last week’s sermon, our Vision Statement? Being the perfect congregation I guess we would say all these things. Talking about the perfect congregation, I found this little poem about the perfect church.
The perfect church
I think that I shall never see
A Church that’s all it ought to be:
A Church whose members never stray
Beyond the Strait and Narrow Way:
A Church that has no empty pews,
Whose Pastor never has the blues,
A Church whose Deacons always deak,
And none is proud, and all are meek:
Where gossips never peddle lies,
Or make complaints or criticize;
Where all are always sweet and kind,
And all to other’s faults are blind.
Such perfect Churches there may be,
But none of them are known to me.
But still, we’ll work, and pray and plan,
To make our own the best we can. Selected.
(Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc. Number 672.)
What motives us as a church, I find it interesting that the author of that wee poem mentioned “we’ll work and pray and plan, to make ours the best we can.” Well at present we have painters here working to repair earthquake damage, the gardens have had a bit of a trim after the snow storm during the week, there has been a tree and some tree branches removed, is this all stuff that makes the church the best it can be? (pause).
If we look at what the church is; it’s not about the building and the gardens the church is you!
The church is not property - it is people. Knock all this down and people will still congregate, the church will still get together as a congregation. As people I want to ask today what motivates your Christian walk. As individuals, as the church I want to ask, what is it you ask God for?
We had a reading earlier from 1 Kings 3:1-15 where we had this depiction of a youngish King Solomon, who on receiving the throne of Israel after having it passed onto him by his Father King David, meeting God in a dream. In this dream, God puts a proposal to Solomon telling Solomon to ask for, “whatever you want me to give you.”
Now Solomon was no mug, we have already seen that he had just made a political allegiance with the King of Egypt and married the Pharaoh’s daughter and this would not be the last King’s daughter that Solomon would marry. It was prudent back in the day for a king to form family alliances with friendly countries, and as the Egyptians were outside the boarders of Canaan this was an alliance that was acceptable. This princess would have had to have been obligated from the time of her marriage to take on the same beliefs as Solomon under Hebrew law. But even with the clues that Solomon had as a king he knew he still lacked, he still needed more than what he had. We see that he had some imperfections as he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.
If you’re wondering what that is about; God had established his worship in one place at the time of King David, and this is why David was referred to “as a man after God’s own heart”, because he worshiped the One True God in One place, at the tabernacle.
The Israelites had taken over the pagan alters in high places and though God had been forbidden it, they worshiped God in those places. So King Solomon who showed his love for God by walking in the statues of his father King David went to Gibeon. His reason for going to Gibeon was that the tabernacle was there at this time. He offered those thousand sacrifices to God on the alter and that night in a dream God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
This would show God what motivated Solomon, more money, fame, countries, jewels, beautiful women, immense power, a navy, armies, the obedience of his subjects, what was it this young king desired above all things?