My thoughts (Tommy Chittenden):
Well, my very first thought after reading the assigned passage, was “Why me”? Why did our editor assign me this particular passage about a bald-headed prophet? Was it because I am bald, and therefore likely to relate to Elisha’s reaction, or was it simply because I was next on the list of names to assign a passage and this happened to be the next passage needing assignment? I don’t know. But interestingly enough, the passage did call to memory similar moments in my life as a Youth Pastor in Atlanta, Georgia and Plainfield, Indiana.
Not that I ever “called down a curse” on any of my young people who, on more than one occasion, would do things like put their hands in front of their face while pleading for “someone” to please “turn off the spotlight.” Fortunately, I’ve had a pretty healthy dose of self-confidence so that I could easily deflect their comments with humor. But I digress — sort of.
Do you remember the television commercial for a certain margarine where Mother Nature was offered a taste of something she was told was butter but was actually margarine? When told of the deception, she replied, “it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” at which point a storm erupts. This humorous commercial came to mind (after the “why me” contemplations) as I pondered this scripture. Apparently, it’s not nice to make fun of a prophet, either. As the storm erupted when Mother Nature was deceived, so also a storm of terrible proportions is unleashed on some young people who called Elisha a bald-headed man. Why were these 42 youth mauled by bears just for calling Elisha a name?
Sorry — you’re not going to get much help from me on this one. I simply don’t know. And those who have written commentary about these verses don’t seem to be able to agree either. So I’m going to direct your attention to a parallel phenomenon to which many (or most) of us can relate and I’m going to do so by simply listing names. Search your heart and you decide, in the context of today’s passage, what these names have to do with you, me, Elisha, the jeering youth and what God might be saying to you today.
Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Donnie McClurkin, Ted Haggard, Fred Phelps — yep, even Fred Phelps — and the ministers or others who have judged you for being who you are!
I know that all of us, even “prophets of God”, miss the mark and fall far short of our potential to act in love in every situation. If you would like to consider this essential truth — and our essential call — further, I invite you to revisit Pastor Jeff’s message from August 16, Thou Shalt Not!
Thought for the day: God, when I consider anyone who has spoken words of judgment against me or someone I love, prompt my sacred heart to ask the question, “What would love do now?” I do not want to miss the mark!
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.