19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
(1 Samuel 8:19-22)
The people of Israel wanted a king. So they approached Samuel and asked him to appoint a king over them [1 Samuel 8:4]. Samuel, being distraught over this request, took the matter to God who told Samuel to inform the people how their lives would change if they had a king [1 Samuel 8:5-18].
But the people refused to listen to this logic and continued to demand that there shall be a king over them. They did not care about the burdens that would be placed upon them. They didn’t care about the financial cost of having a king. All they wanted was to be like other nations.
God never wanted this for Israel. God wanted Israel to be unique among all the nations [Deuteronomy 7:6]. God’s intention was to make Israel a great nation so that they, in turn, would be a blessing to all the other nations [Genesis 12:2].
This was God’s plan to save the world. People would learn about Him through Israel because Israel would be unique. Israel would have unique customs and they would receive unique blessings (and punishments) from God.
This uniqueness would call attention to Israel and make other people curious. That curiosity would lead people to learn about God and their sinful nature, from which they could be forgiven through Jesus. God would use Israel to offer salvation from sin to the entire world.
At least that was the plan.
But Israel didn’t want to be unique. They compared other nations to themselves and thought those nations had it better than they did. Rather than being glad about the uniqueness God had blessed them with, they wanted to blend in.
And that would mean they would no longer stand out and could not be the conduit through which God reached the world (at least not to the original extent God intended).
The same is true to today of Christians. Now that we are living under the New Testament it is Christians who are to be the ones through whom the world learns about Jesus. And for Christians to be successful at this then they, like ancient Israel, must be unique. We must stand out.
But, sadly, like ancient Israel too many Christians don’t want to experience God’s unique blessings. They too want to be like the world around them. They want the big house with granite countertops. They want the corner office and huge salary. They want the BMW and vacations in Hawaii.
When Christians live like the rest of the world we give the impression that worldly things are as important – or maybe more important – than eternal things. But, of course, this is not true.
All Christians should live with their eyes and lives focused on eternity [Colossians 3:2]. The world lives as if what is on this earth is all there is. And that will lead to their destruction [Philippians 3:19]. Followers of Jesus are not to live like this.
We are not to gather worldly possessions or experiences. We are to forsake these in exchange for eternal treasures [Matthew 6:19-20]. We are to be the extreme of “light” in a world of “darkness” as we learned when we studied the Gospel of Matthew. If we do, the world will take notice and will come to know Jesus.
The problem is that if we do this, not only will the world take notice but they will often ridicule. And no one enjoys being made fun of. But the only way to bring about change is to be different. One who is like everyone else cannot lead others to a different place.
One who is like everyone else cannot lead others to a different place. Christians who want to be like the non-believing world around them will not lead anyone to heaven. They will only lead people to hell.
Rather we should live the unique lives God calls us to. Not only will this have an eternal effect on the lives of others, but it will be more enjoyable than living life as a clone.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.