19But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
          1 Samuel 8:19-20 (NIV)

As I read these verses, it struck me that most of our problems stem from wanting to be “like all the other” ______ – you fill in the blank – like all the other people; like all the other parents; like all the other kids at school; like all the other states; like all the other nations.

If you are reading through Samuel, as we are during our Resting at the River’s Edge reading, you would have seen that the Israelites had asked Samuel to appoint a king. Samuel was grieved and took his concern to the Lord. The Lord very pointedly replied to Samuel:

“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
          1 Samuel 8:7a

The Israelites request for a king is really their acting out of their rejection of God as their king. And what reason did they give? They wanted to be “like all the other nations.” Not only were they rejecting God as their king, they were rejecting God’s Kingship in their lives. They no longer wanted to follow His pattern for life, but the pattern of the sinful nations around them.

I wonder how often are we like these Israelites? As adults, it is easy to see it in our children. How strongly they want to shake off parental instruction and “be like all the other” kids! Of course, our children don’t see it that way.

Well, my friend, you and I are just like our children! We chafe and rebel at the instructions God has given us for life and we say “I want to ‘be like all the other’ people.” We want to share in their leisure activities. We want to watch the same television programs (how else will we have anything to talk about with our coworkers?). We want to eat their food and drink their beverages. We want to rule our own lives as they do. Is there anything wrong with their leisure activities, their television programs, their food and drink, their lives? Maybe, maybe not. What is wrong is our attitude.

We have such a deep-seated desire (need, actually) for community that we are willing to remove ourselves from under God’s Lordship and put ourselves under the authority of Satan just so we can “be like” those around us. That need occurs at the very depth of our being – it was put there by God, who lives in community within the Trinity. It was put there by God, who knows our need so well that He sets the lonely in families (Psalms 68:6). It was put there by God who established the Church to serve as our earthly community.

But mostly it was put there by God so that we would seek Him. It is our sinful nature that has perverted what God has put in us so that we seek community among the pagan nations around us instead of with God and His family. Friend, let us desire “to be like” the One who created us and knows us, our wants, desires and needs better than anyone, even better than we know ourselves. Let us desire “to be like” those around us who love God, not those who love the world. And let us use that God-given desire for community as the impetus that causes us to reach out to those who are not yet a part of our community. They need community, too. Let’s help them find it in God.

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