All three passages contrast human ‘common sense’ and ‘pragmatism’ with God’s wisdom and vision.

1 Samuel 8: 4-20. Samuel is getting old and the sons he appointed as judges are corrupt. Israel is surrounded by enemies. A strong leader is needed to restore law and order at home and build Israel as a strong force among its neighbours.

2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18. While our physical appearance and faculties decay, our spiritual capacity, insight and understanding are renewed. All we see around us is temporary. But we catch glimpses of God’s glory, which will later be fully revealed to all who remain faithful – far outweighing the pain we may endure in this short life.

Mark 3: 20-35. Jesus’ family home is surrounded by crowds. Many are possessed by demons (for which our ‘modern’ world has more clinical names). Religious leaders labelled Jesus’ acts of healing as inspired by Satan. Jesus condemned this rejection of God’s healing powers as the ultimate and unforgiveable sin against the Holy Spirit.

These passages also show how accepting God’s wisdom and guidance can enhance the quality of our earthly lives.

Had Israel’s people heeded Samuel’s warnings about the burdens which kings (and later other dictators) would place upon them (1 Samuel 8:11-18), their history might have been very different.

The riches of God’s grace (2 Corinthians 4:15) empower us to live more meaningful, cooperative and productive lives.

Jesus’ family thought he was mad and demanded he ‘come home’. Jesus replied that all who do God’s will in his name are his family. As today’s disciples and believers, so are we all.

Philip Eldridge

Lay Preacher