I love it when I run across a Scripture that I haven’t really noticed before. Check out 1 Samuel 8:10-18:
Samuel told all the words of the LORD
to the people who were asking him for a king. He said,
“This is what the king who will reign over you will do:
He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses,
and they will run in front of his chariots.
Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties,
and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest,
and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves
and give them to his attendants.
He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage
and give it to his officials and attendants.
Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys
he will take for his own use.
He will take a tenth of your flocks,
and you yourselves will become his slaves.
When that day comes, you will cry out
for relief from the king you have chosen,
and the LORD will not answer you.”
Leaving aside the violence and the slavery aspects, this passage has a starfish church ring to it. For most of human history, we have insisted on obeying the will of a king, lord, or worldly leader. Likewise, for most of Christian history, we have appealed to a hierarchical church. We have insisted on power-over relationships and consolidated authority. Thus, we cry out to God to change the church, but since we have created the church’s structure ourselves, God “will not respond” in the way we expect God to.
It is up to us to listen to the Spirit to find creative ways to live in community. Starfish churches have a lot to go against when you consider the ingrained need for hierarchy and order. But to those who willingly throw their hierarchy and patriarchal privilege off their backs, God will listen to and respond.