Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:19-20 NASB)
Does this sound like anyone you know? Maybe yourself? The part I’m really looking at and thinking of is the people’s response. Especially one line. “that we also may be like all the nations…” The nation of Israel had the God of the universe as their leader and King, but they wanted to settle for a human king. Why? Because they wanted to be like everyone else. They were satisfied being led by an imperfect human instead of letting the holy God lead them.
The problem is, we do the same thing. We try to blend in. We want to be just like everyone around us, instead of standing out because we live the way God wants us to live. I know I struggle greatly with this. And the sad thing about it is we have this example of Israel, and how poorly that worked out for them. So why do we do it? Sometimes, it just seems easier to blend in. It doesn’t cost us anything. But to be a true follower of Jesus, which is what we claim to be, we have to stand out. It may cost us friends, family, money, status, or many other things. But, in the end, it’s much better to follow Christ and lose those things.
Jesus said in Luke 9:23-26, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
When we focus on things of this world, we run the risk of losing our very soul. Which is better? Blending in and being just everyone around us, or stepping out in our faith, which may draw persecution or cost us things in this world. There are eternal consequences and rewards associated with this choice.
Jesus addresses the idea multiple times throughout John that we are not really of this world if we are His followers. Paul in Romans 12 tells us that we are not to conform to the patterns of this world anymore. And he also tells us in Philippians;
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21 NASB)
Let’s learn from the history of Israel as well as Jesus’ own words. Do not blend in. We are to follow Christ, no matter what it costs us in this world. That can be a very hard thing to do at times, but again, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”