We are a people who love to celebrate ourselves. Whether it's our success or our esteem or our connections or just our very lives, we simply love being made much of.
We simply hate to hear that we are not the most valuable thing in life. Most people think culture drives how we live, I disagree:
I think we drive what the culture is. And if that is true, we have many disparaging and unholy problems that add to the constant corruption and horrible atmosphere of our world.
There's a reason why many young women like songs by popular artist Ke$ha. (A singer's name that incorporates a dollar sign in her name, I'll leave that commentary for another time) She sings about complete control of her life to whatever her whim and appetites desire. She militantly muses about living a life that is wholly self-centered and egotistical.
Ke$ha is a culmination of what happens when a child grows up hearing that their self-esteem and personal dreams and goals are her gods. (sadly, many churches teach this aberrant, self-centered doctrine , just look at how many sermons about achieving your goals and dreams there are in modern "evangelical churches)
It's easy to pick on Ke$sha isn't it. She's popular and eccentric and a very easy target. However, my beef isn't with Ke$sha because the Apostle Paul says we're not supposed to judge those outside of the faith. So let's turn to the text of the day.
At the end of 1 Samuel 7, the nation of Israel is at peace and being taught the Word of God by the prophet Samuel. They become a very prosperous nation and they become very discontent.
Read that line again: THEY BECOME A VERY PROSPEROUS NATION AND THEY BECOME A VERY DISCONTENT NATION.
Our modern way of life pleads with us that the opposite is true. We want to believe that prosperity breeds contentment. But the opposite is usually true: The more we have the more we want.
So Israel becomes discontent with the system of governing that God sets up and asks Samuel for a king to rule over them. Samuel is upset with this request and prays to the Lord. The Lord responds,
"Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them." (1 Samuel 8:7-9)
The root of the issue is not that they didn't like Samuel or the way he was running things. The root of the matter was their rebellious heart towards their God. The people didn't want God ruling over them, they wanted to rule themselves by having a human king over them.
In chapter 9 we meet the man who would be king, Saul, an impressive man. The people wanted him to be king, their ruler also because other nations had kings over them. Note well, brothers and sisters, Israel's insistence upon being like other nations. Books have been written in the Christian world about how friendship with the World is a positive thing. About how being well liked and respected by the culture is actually the way to reach the culture for Christ.
The Bible absolutely disagrees with that line of reasoning,
"You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)
If you want to become an enemy of God, become friends with the world, become like the world. You may be told that you are reaching people (and your church may get bigger), but what you're really doing is fighting God. And in that battle, you lose... every time.
Simply put, a person that doesn't live a holy life will NOT experience persecution and will be accepted by the world because they are impostors that look like Christians. How do I know this?
"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." (2 Timothy 3:12-13)
One lesson from this passage is that we, as Christians, are far more like the nation of Israel at this time that we might like to admit. We are not content with our lives in Jesus. We long for more stuff. We switch churches when things don't go our way or someone offends us with a small offense. We deny that our sinful natures lead us to make more decisions than does our Spirit-led nature.
It should be understood that when God granted the prayer of the people for a king, he was granting judgment on them, not blessing. Their desire for a king was ultimately a rejection of God and His ways. God's ways lead to life, but the Bible says,
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Proverbs 14:12)
Dear friend, perhaps today is the day for you to repent of your sin and place your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps today is the day when you trust in God to be your true King. Perhaps today is the day we turn from our rebellion that is glorified and made our god like in Ke$ha's song lyrics. Perhaps today is the day when, unlike the nation of Israel in 1 Samuel, you submit yourself to the rule of God and confess Jesus Christ as Lord.