In the book of 1 Samuel, Israel has finally made it to the promised land and for hundreds of years they have flourished in their new kingdom with no king, only periodic judges to lead them. At this point, Samuel is the judge, or leader, leading the Israelites. Samuel has been doing this since he was a boy and he’s been doing a great job. And yet, in chapter eight the Israelites come before Samuel and the Lord and declare...
“We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations…”
This is one of those terribly sad passages in scripture. By asking for a king, the Israelites are basically saying, "God, you and the life you offer are not enough. Everyone else has one, why can’t we?"
The Israelites wanted a king because they wanted to be like everyone else. And still today our culture presents us with any number of false kings begging to be served and make us just like everyone else. This is one of the lies our culture tells us. True, there are many TV campaigns and t-shirts our there telling us, “Be unique”, “You are your own person”, “You’re special”. This may what our culture is saying, but all our culture is doing in magazines and movies and advertisements is showing us how we can all have the same perfect body, the same diet, the same perfect family, and if you don’t have that, that doesn’t make you unique, that makes you wrong.
The Israelites wanted a king, someone who would tell them what to do, who to be, how to act. Yet they already had the perfect king, and they had already been called, as God’s people, His holy people, to live lives set apart and different.
Within the very fabric of our creation is the calling to be unique. We are told that we are created in His image, which is infinite and incomprehensible. And we worship a God who is infinitely creative. So why do we seek to limit God’s image and creativity by striving to achieve some sort of cultural standard which often leads to spiritual mediocrity?
God has created each of us differently, He has given some to be apostles, some prophets, some teachers, miracle workers, gifts of healing, helps, guidance (1 Cor. 12) the list is endless. And the temptation is to forsake the inbred unique genius inside of us and try to blend in with the crowd. The Israelites forsook their calling as God’s people in order to live like everyone else. But God is not interested in having a people who live like everyone else. God’s word is full of stories of men and woman who took ownership of their unique image and changed the world. And I believe that in a culture obsessed with uniformity that God is still working for diversity. I believe that in a culture obsessed with perfection that God’s still looking and working through imperfect people. I believe that in a culture that says, “Be like everyone else,” God says, “Be like Jesus, cause we was like no one else.”
Do not accept the standards of your culture as the only way to live. If we did, the would have never been a Shakespeare, Mozart, Beatles, Sputnik, Jericho, Red Sea, Virgin birth, and there would be no church, and there would be no salvation for all through Jesus.
To be a Christ follower is not to subscribe to some set list of things to do and not do. To be a Christ follower is to accept the unique image that has been woven into the fabric of your creation, and to live out the unique calling God has given you not what others are doing or saying.