Archives for posts with tag: king

king

Protection from enemies. Healthcare. Free stuff. Some things never change. Listening to those who are seeking the party nominations reminds me of a Bible story.

In John 6 Jesus miraculously fed 5000 with a boy’s lunch. He healed them and taught them, and they liked it. Jesus gave them what they wanted, so they wanted to make him king. Knowing that their desires were selfish, not godly, Jesus evaded them and went off to be alone with his Father.

We want to give authority to those who agree with us, and we want those we disagree with to be destroyed…or at least go away. I fear that far too many Americans vote strictly along party lines. Too many voters make minimal effort to be educated on the problems our country is facing, and pin their confidence on factless sound bites that support what they want to believe. When a candidate tells us what we want to hear, we want to give him (or her!) power. The problem is, we don’t measure what we want to hear against sound principle or the facts. We are not inclined to let our opinions be clouded by facts that don’t support us.

Since the invention of the TV, our elections have been more about image than content. Elections have been lost because a candidate stumbled on an answer, because he lost patience with a persistent heckler, or because they lacked the good looks and charisma captured by the TV camera. Candidates now hire people to make sure their image is impressive. The problem is, America doesn’t need a poster boy; we need a statesman. We don’t need a slick politician who seeks to further his own career; we need someone who is committed to what is right for the people of America. We need a leader with integrity and sound understanding of our domestic and international relationships and problems. Entire campaigns are built around sound bites and photo ops – neither one of which will address or assuage the crises in our nation.

The people of Greece are facing utter financial collapse. Their government has been insolvent for some time, but they elected a man who told them that they could continue doing what they’d been doing in the past and things would get better. They defeated the man who told them that saving their country would require higher taxes and fewer government sponsored perks. Now they are adamant that the European Union continue to provide them what they refuse to provide for themselves. Europe is not inclined to sacrifice so that the Greeks won’t have to. They face a referendum this weekend, and they will have to choose between what they want to hear and the facts about their future.

We still want a king. We will give him power if he will give us what we want. We want slick promises that things will get better and that it won’t cost us anything. Anytime we give power to those who tell us what we want to hear, we leave God out of the process. In the Old Testament the people demanded that Samuel appoint a king over them. God reminded Samuel that the people weren’t rejecting Samuel’s authority; they were rejecting God’s authority. I believe the people of America have far more in common with the people of Samuel’s day and the nation of Greece than we want to admit.

I dread the endless campaign commercials connected with a presidential campaign, but I intend to use each one as a reminder to immediately go to God in prayer, that he would help us elect the leader we need, not the leader we deserve. What would happen if the people of this nation repented of our arrogance and sought God’s will in handling the fear and hatred and selfishness and immorality of our nation?

II Chron 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

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Americans don’t want to call him a “king”, but we seek the comfort of having someone else stand between us and our enemies.  Those enemies might be in terrorist cells around the world or those with different political ideologies.  We want someone to make us feel good about ourselves and make us feel better about our future. We want someone to step in and do the hard things for us.  We want our leaders to fix all the problems in our society with no discernible cost to us.  We want to trust them to know the secret information and make the hard choices and make everything better so that we can go merrily along with our lives and please ourselves.  We want our president, our congress, and our leaders on every level to do what they have proved over and over they cannot do.

I’m old enough to see that every election is based on candidates making promises that they cannot keep, some that they have no intention of keeping.  I’m fascinated by people who choose their candidate because he makes a promise they like….and have no real concept of how he will accomplish that promise.  Too many people trust a party to make to tell them the truth, but the party (and the media) is really far more interested in advancing their own agenda than they are in the truth.  There will be people who enter the voting booth next week armed only with very limited information provided by biased sources.  Most of the people I’ve talked to have become lazy and allowed someone else to tell them what they want to hear about the candidates, and have made no effort to seek the truth themselves.  I have discovered that one candidate in Virginia is running way behind in the polls based on his opponent’s ad that completely misrepresents him.   And the voters will trust those who oppose him for the truth about him.  Election campaigns have become far more about opposition than support.  I can barely remember the days when I voted for a candidate, rather than against a candidate.

The problem is that kings are only men, and men who have great power are much more prone to use it for their own benefit than for the benefit of those under their authority. Lord Acton wrote a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 and penned the famous quote and insightful analysis of history: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” The holy God is not corruptible because his power is not derived from the people he rules, and he is not subject to evil or weakness. He does not need his people’s obedience or money to make himself more than he is. He rules his people for their benefit, not for his own. 

Twice in the book of Judges we see the phrase “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did  as he saw fit.”  (17:6 and 21:25)  By I Samuel 8:7 they had rejected God’s authority over them and wanted a leader like their pagan neighbors had.  They gave authority to a man, and were eventually enslaved to their enemies.

When we trust men to do what only God can do, we are going to end up enslaved to people who seek their own good, not ours.  When we think we are so smart that we reject right and wrong for what is easy and convenient.  When we do what we think is right in our own eyes, when we are more interested in beating the opponent than in doing what God’s law commands, then we will end up somewhere we never intended to go, becoming something far less than we’d hoped.  Our country has trusted our government to “fix” poverty, crime, education, national security, and a whole host of other things that have just gotten worse in the last 50 years.  Perhaps we need to give the authority back to God, and elect men who will serve him, not themselves.