Do you see what Ahab does here? He’s the problem, on all fronts–his religious policy, his tyrannical habits, his foreign wife, from the perspective of traditional Israelite religion and politics, everything Ahab touches is poisoned by the touch. And yet he blames Elijah for all the problems. ‘Is it you, you troubler of Israel?’ It is mark of a scoundrel to blame someone else for what he himself has done. Blame the victim. Blame the whistleblower. Blame the brain-dead opposing party. Create a diversion and blame something no one’s ever even heard of. Keep chanting ‘I’m rubber, you’re glue, bounce off me and stick on you.’ Elijah’s response is crisp, clean, to the point. He refuses to get drawn into a tit-for-tat argument. ‘Nope, you’re the problem. Now, here’s how we’re going to handle this…’ He doesn’t negotiate, he doesn’t explain, he doesn’t refute Ahab’s scoundrelry word for word, line for line, point by point. Because the people who’ve bought Ahab’s sales pitch aren’t likely to listen anyway: they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. Instead of words, Elijah prefers action. Send your A-team and let’s get to it.
We live in such a world Ahabian scoundrelry and deflection. I keep hearing that The Episcopal Church is dying because it’s too liberal–but the people who say that belong to denominations which are in decline pretty much as steep, statistically, as is ours, and which aren’t liberal at all. And I keep hearing about how the Roman Church has a sexual discipline problem in its clergy, mostly from people whose own churches have a sexual discipline problem in the clergy. (Example: The most popular evangelical Kamp in our area has a former director who’s been in jail for over a decade for 57 cases of abusing male Kampers–is that ever mentioned? It’s not a Roman Catholic problem, friends: it’s a Christian problem.) It’s a deflection, friends, to cover up what no one wants to admit is going on in their own back yard under their own watch. ‘Is it you, you troubler of Israel?’
Clean up your own house. Pluck the beam out of your own eye. Attend to your own sins and failings. And when you’re perfect, come toss some stones at your opponents. Because Ahab’s deflection has raised the temperature on the debate to the point where blood is about to be spilled, and that’s far too often the result of our own decision to follow his bad, bad example and deflect and blame.