How To Cause Trouble

Key Text:  1 Kings 18:17

When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

Are you a troublemaker?

I don’t usually like to think of myself that way.  Even as a preacher, a pastoral counselor, and a blogger, I don’t like to think that I “trouble” people’s minds about their spiritual life.  I prefer to think I “facilitate” or “coach” or “mentor” them toward discipleship in a way that is compassionate and healing.

Still, when I read about the ancient prophets – like Elijah – there is something appealing about being a troublemaker for God.

When Elijah encountered a fellow named Ahab, and confronted him and his people about being idolaters,  Ahab went to name calling:

“Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

Old Elijah didn’t miss a beat, though.  He simply replied that Ahab was the one causing trouble.

He said, in no uncertain terms,

“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.  Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel.”

Ouch.  He told Ahab he needed to gather all the people and deal once and for all with the most important question they could ever answer: would they continue to follow the “Baals” – false gods – or would they turn to the one true God?

Troublemaker.

Well, you might not want to sign up to be a prophet of God tomorrow.  It is difficult work to be sure.

On the other hand, we must all have the courage to sometimes step up and challenge falsehood, and idolatry, and false religion, and wrong spiritual thinking, when – in our heart of hearts – we believe it to be present.

To do any less is to be false to our own spiritual calling.

So, go ahead.  I invite you, in God’s name, to cause a little trouble now and then.

Just be sure that you do so for the right reasons, in the right way, at the right time.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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