january 29th - Everyone Else
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 1 Sam 8:4-7 (NKJV)
Do you really want to be like everyone else? When I was a school boy the answer would have been an emphatic, "yes!" Above all other considerations I wanted to "fit it." I wanted to dress like my peers, eat the same food as my peers, talk the same way as my peers; all in order to be acceptable to my peers. Ultimately, it didn't work, because, I was created to be a one of a kind...just like everyone else. We are all carefully and fearfully created with unique characteristics. I now turn on my laptop computer by turning it on and it immediately begins to examine my "one of a kind" face to make sure that it is me. I guess it is impossible to be like everyone else, but I sure try at times.
Peer pressure can have a tremendous influence on an individual's choices in life. Sometimes we are willing to do things that we already consider foolish, simply because "everyone else" is doing it. We involve ourselves in such behavior, because we want to fit in--because the "in" crowd is doing it, and because we tell ourselves that we can get away with it.
The people of Israel wanted to be like the other nations around them. "Pray tell me why?" The other nations worshiped idols. The other nations engaged in human sacrifice. The other nations were barbaric and unenlightened by comparison. The elders of Israel approached Samuel and
said, "Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."What an ignorant decision! Centuries latter, British historian, Lord Acton made the following observation: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
Saul was not an exception to Lord Acton's statement. With the accession of Saul, came higher taxes, corruption, arbitrary and inconsistent decisions, nepotism, lawlessness, wars and serious holes in the idea of justice and the rule of law. By demanding a King, the nation of Israel did become like the nations around them and in doing so, became something less. Anytime, and every time a nation or an individual or a community of people decide to ignore God's truth and do what everyone else is doing--it is going to diminish a beautiful work of God.
Author's Note: As I have aged and matured through the years, I have become more of a contrarian when it comes to following the crowd or trying to fit it. Let me be frank: I don't try or even want to fit in. This world is not my home. (Skinny jeans are for skinny people who don't care about comfort) Ultimately, I want to live in such a way as to be pleasing to God. When it comes to others, I try to speak the truth in love and let the dust settle where it settles. RJD