It’s so hard to let God rule the tribe …

I’ve been thinking a lot about North African and Middle Eastern tribal cultures lately. It’s been giving me a better understanding of God’s Kingdom and our relationship to it. Also why we call Jesus a “Savior.” Here’s how I’m understanding the story:

The Lord of all Lords gave us responsibility to rule our world, as his dearly beloved friends. We couldn’t stick to the simplest agreement, so God worked out something more complicated, more like what Earth tribes had, which made God our unseen “tribal lord.” For a very short while, that worked, then we started agitating for a king we could see. Things continued downhill from there.

By the time Jesus shows up on Earth, many centuries later, Satan tells him that Satan is in charge of the Earth and Jesus doesn’t dispute it. We have apparently chosen to let Satan become our “tribal lord.” In the way of those tribal kingdoms, we continue to pay Satan regular tribute — not by sacrificing virgins to volcanos, but by sacrificing our loves to our ambitions, our commitments to our comforts, our purpose to our impulses.

So it will take Jesus, as the son and legitimate heir of the Lord of Lords, to rescue (save) us out of that dark kingdom with its dark rules and dark ways.

And yet, we still find it so easy to pay Satan tribute. Anger, envy, gluttony, greed … each has our own short list, I expect.

I find it hard to remember, each day, which ruler is supposed to get the tribute of my time, my talents, my resources. Because the ruler who controls most of what I see is clamoring loudly for it all. And the Ruler I have chosen speaks in a still, small voice.

What helps you decide, minute by minute, where to carry your tribute?

About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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