Friday, August 31, 2012

Wanting to be Like the World

I’m reading through 1 Samuel and found the passage in chapter 8, where the people ask Samuel to give them a king, fascinating. After a time of appointed judges, and after losing patience with the current judges Joel and Abijah--who “turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice,”--the people tell Samuel, the previous judge, “Appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

Samuel did not appreciate this idea, so he turned to the Lord for consult. Listen to what God says to Samuel, and see if it doesn’t sound familiar in our day: God said to Samuel: 

“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.”

God then told Samuel to warn the people exactly what having a worldly human king would mean--that they would have to give up their sons and daughters to serve the king, along with the best of their land--ending with a final summation by saying, “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 in that day.”

But the people, who obviously idolized the lifestyle of their neighbors, replied, 

“No!...We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 

A classic case of “the grass is always greener!”

And God calmly responds to Samuel, 

“Listen to them and give them a king.”

There are so many elements to this passage I don’t know where to begin. First we have lusting after the lifestyle of others. Then, there's not being happy with their current judges but not turning to God in prayer for what to do about those judges. What if they had just decided as a nation to not have judges anymore, and to put God back in charge, as was the original plan? And then there's the whopper of having someone to “fight our battles.” They got to a place where they didn’t want to take responsibility or be accountable to God as a people to make their nation a place of integrity. They figured their “government,” the king, would take care of everything. And finally, Samuel's warning that they would become slaves to the worldly king.

I’ve heard leaders in the Christian youth movement lament that “we’re losing our youth when they get to college.” But we’ve already lost many of them before they even get to college, along with the rest of the congregation, when they desire to be under their king the world instead of under their LORD God. If we’re losing many of the kids to the world, it’s because we’ve often lost the parents to the world. Sometimes even the church has been lost to the world. I once sat in on a meeting of a church where the entire discussion was about spending money on rearranging the pews into theater-in-the-round position because “the church down the street has it.” 

Be it music, marketing techniques, book studies, Christian authors, etc. sometimes the church, too, undermines the LORDship of God in order to be more like the world. It can give in to the temptation to place the world’s or other Christian’s ideas and applications of Biblical truth before God Himself.

Tony Evans (a Christian author we must check against Scripture just like any other author) of the Urban Alternative said the LORDship of God was undermined from the get-go in the Garden of Eden. The following is a long quote, but essential reading for a clear picture of how the loss of the LORDShip of God comes about:

     “Before we read about Satan approaching Eve in the garden, every Scripture reference to God in relation to Adam is made as LORD God. Anytime you read the word LORD (in all caps), it refers to the name Yahweh used for God. The special title Yahweh means master and absolute ruler and is the name God used to reveal himself in His relationship with man. Prior to the name Yahweh, God had revealed himself as Creator, which is the name Elohim.
     However, when Satan spoke to Eve about eating that which she should not, he did not refer to God as LORD God. Satan essentially stripped off the name LORD—removing master and absolute ruler—and instead said, ‘Indeed has God said…’ Thus Satan sought to reduce God’s rulership over humankind by beginning with the subtle but effective twist of His name. In doing so, Satan kept the concept of religion while eliminating divine authority.
     By removing LORD from the authoritative nature of the relationship between God and Adam and Eve and in bypassing Adam, Satan not only caused humankind to rebel, but he also took over the dominion that man was supposed to be exercising under God’s authority. By eating the fruit in disobedience, Adam and Eve chose to change how they viewed their Creator from LORD God to God, resulting in the loss of their intimate fellowship with Him and each other, as well as the power of the dominion that flows from the ultimate Ruler.” Tony Evans, Kingdom Man, p. 12

This is the picture of what was taking place in 1 Samuel 8, and it is the picture of what still takes place today. It is what 2 Timothy 3:5 refers to when it says people will have “a form of godliness but denying its power.”

And God soberly says today, as then, “Listen to them and give them a king.” And what He is saying is, give them that worldly king they so lust after. And so we seal our hearts and minds around worldly "kings," be they leaders, the physical church, professors, material things, drugs and alcohol or emotions, and when these "kings" don’t do what we naively expected, we either turn to new and different “kings” or finally, to LORD God Himself.

“So you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:22

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” 
John 14:15-17

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