“It’s So Obvious That It’s Not” August 19, 2018
“It’s So Obvious That It’s Not”
1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:3-14
I was driving around Mac last week running errands when I found myself listening to an interview with Bob Moore, the founder, along with his wife Charlee, of Bob’s Red Mill. Now I always suspected that the whole stone ground organic thing that Bob’s Red Mill flour promises was just a marketing gimmick, but I don’t think that so much any more. No, I can’t think that and as I found myself looking for other places to drive around just so I could keep listening to this interview, I found myself not only believing in the product but I found myself believing in the heart of the man who founded it; a man who saw an opportunity to do some good in this world and did it; against all odds, he did it. But it was when he talked about his 81st birthday that I started to see the hand of God at work. Imagine his employees’ surprise, if you will, when instead of receiving gifts Bob decided to give his greatest gift away – ownership of his business. Bob surprised all his employees on that day by creating an Employee Stock Ownership Program and making everyone an employee-owner. Quoting from the Red Mill website, “For those who know Bob, it’s just another example of his kind hearted generosity. As Bob puts it, ‘It was just the right thing to do. I have people that have worked for me for 30 years and each and every one deserves this.’” The interviewer said, “Mr. Moore, your company made over 100 million dollars last year, yet you’re giving 2/3 of it away. Aren’t you worried that you will end up just like you started with nothing?” Bob replied, and this was the clincher for me, “You know, the bible says to do onto others as you would have them do onto you, and I really believe that. I didn’t get where I am all by myself, so why should I keep it all to myself.”
I have to say, Bob Moore’s story made an impression on me. He is selfless, caring, and compassionate and in the business world, these are not necessarily qualities that lead to success. Yet, here he is and you can find products from Bob’s Red Mill in every grocery store in the northwest. Now the reason I even bring this up, besides the fact that I think Bob Moore is an exceptional human being, is that our theme in scripture today seems to be about that elusive thing that we call wisdom. To be more specific, it’s the type of wisdom that’s begrudgingly know as discernment. Now discernment is a funny word. When Samuel as a young man found himself as king of the nation of Israel, it had to have been terrifying. The Lord comes to him in a dream, and wanting to help out says simply, “Ask what I shall give you.” That’s it – ask what I shall give you. What do you want? What do you need the most? And young Samuel doesn’t ask for a ’67 Corvette, candy apple red with a 468 big block; I mean, really now. This is a genie in the bottle moment here. But no. Samuel, wise in his youth, says only (vs 9) “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between right and wrong, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
Now there’s a mouthful. “That I may discern between right and wrong.” And you know, God was pleased with this request, and understandingly so. But judging by Samuel’s later history, it’s hard to believe that this “blessing of discernment” really stuck. So where does that leave us? Why does it have to be so hard to understand – to discern – between right and wrong? The answer, I believe, in the words of Bob Moore, is simply “It’s so obvious that it’s not.” I mean let’s be honest here: 99.99% of the time that we have wronged someone or someone has wronged us, we know it. There’s that little tickle in your gut or that just overall icky feeling that says “yea, I shouldn’t have done that. I know better.” The liar, the thief, the gossip – they all know that what they do is wrong. So this discernment thing doesn’t seem to be so much of an issue here. What if Samuel had asked for an understanding mind and a thoughtful heart – a heart that would compel him to want – and I mean to really want – to only do what is right; maybe that would have changed things. Because we all know that no matter what, we are not going to jump up to do something unless it’s something we really want to do it. Seems obvious, right; but like Bob says, “It’s so obvious that it’s not.”
The ministry of Jesus Christ was with us for a very short time. But in that time he changed the world. He healed the sick, made the blind to see and the deaf to hear, and even brought folks who were presumed dead back to life. But is this why men and women have willingly devoted their lives to Christ for over 2000 years? Not really. No, we want to be followers – we want to be disciples – because of who he is: Emmanuel, God in the flesh, God here amongst us. And Jesus has told us in every way imaginable who he is so that we would know, so that we would believe, and so that we would want to be in his presence. “I am the light of the world,” he tells us. “I am the truth, I am the resurrection, I am the way. I am the good shepherd. My sheep know my voice. I am the true vine.” But nothing is more important, there’s nothing we want more than life. And so when Jesus speaks in John 6 that, “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the bread of life.” (vs 56) “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks of my blood abides in me, and I in him.” /// The bread of life, the bread of life eternal; now that’s something that I want – that I really, really want. And in wanting the bread of life I automatically wish for everyone to have it as well. That’s obvious, don’t you think? Why should I want to keep this glorious gift to myself? And this is the discernment that Jesus taught and preached constantly in his short time here among us in the flesh. I am the bread. Partake of me and you shall live. It’s beautiful and terrifying at the same time, which makes us want it all the more.
I’ll close with what I guess you could call the vision statement of Bob Moore from Bob’ Red Mill. “It’s so obvious, it’s not. That thing you make – That thing you love – It should be a good thing. After all, isn’t that the point? Isn’t that why we’re here? To help one another. To add something. To make folks a little happier, a little healthier for doing what you do?” Let it be our great joy that we may want – really want – to live in the love of Christ. After all, isn’t that the point? Amen & Shalom