"Come home with me and have something to eat, and I will give you a gift." 1 Kings 13:7
In our reading for today a prophet speaks far-reaching words of judgment that aren't fulfilled until about 300 years have passed (see 2 Kings 23:15-20). But a miraculous sign (the split altar) shows that he is speaking the words of the Lord. Seeing his hand shriveled, Jeroboam quickly morphs from wanting to kill this prophet to wanting to be friends with him.
Suddenly Jeroboam feels inclined to pray for healing. Suddenly he decides that it might be good to be friendly to the holy man. Dinner! A present! Maybe the prophet will forget that "Seize him!" command. (A wealthy businessman once wrote, "If you can buy your way out of a problem, you don't have a problem!" Jeroboam apparently had a good grasp on that principle.)
It happens a lot. People love their church because they love their prophet or pastor. People leave their church because they hate their prophet or pastor.
I met a woman who had been neglecting church. She recited a list of pastors she had "kind of liked," one she had "really liked," and a few she "definitely did not like." I finally told her: Make sure your heart is attached to the living God, not to mere human servants. If you are too attached to them, your worship will be misdirected, fickle, and weak. Prophets and pastors will always fail. God never will.
"Jesus, draw me close. Closer, Lord, to you. For I desire to worship and obey." Help us all to seek you first in our lives, Lord. Give us your wisdom and your faithfulness. Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!