Psalm 138:1-8 and 1 Samuel 8:4-20
(Quoted scripture is New Revised Standard Version)

It was summer and there was a bonfire on the beach. All her friends were going. She was fourteen and she wanted to go! Her mother was hesitant. Were there going to be boys? Were there adult chaperones? After all, she was only fourteen, too young to be at an unchaperoned party. The daughter protested, “But everybody else is going! Everybody else is doing it! I want to be like everybody else!”

Her mother objected to the mini-skirt craze. These were the days when girls were required to wear skirts to school and she had to wear a skirt, but it couldn’t be shorter than just touching her knee. Of course, after she arrived at school, she’d just turn that waistband over a couple of times, and her skirt became a mini-skirt! Why, because everybody else was doing it! She was a rebellious teenager. I’m sure nobody here was a rebellious teenager.

I’ve been listening to the Billy Graham channel 145 on Sirius XM radio. The other day Rev. Graham said, There was a father with a rebellious teenager, and the teenager said to his father, “I didn’t ask to be born, ya know.” The Father replied, “If you had asked, I’d have said No!” As a rebellious teenager and as a mother who raised four teenagers, I can relate to that!

I remember as a teenager, I wanted to be like everybody else. Anyone here relate to that? You wanted to make sure you blended in with the crowd. You didn’t want to be different, or appear odd or strange. The kids who were odd or strange, were made fun of and bullied. Yes, in my day we were both bullied and at times I was a bully. Yet, we didn’t use being bullied as a reason to commit suicide, or shoot up the school. Times have changed.

Let’s take a moment to look at the nation of Israel and how they said, “But everybody else is doing it!” to God.

We read, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us like other nations.” (vv. 4-5)

Up until this time, Israel had never had a human king. God was the focus of their worship and their loyalty was to the One True God. This set them apart from the other nations, who worshiped more than one god. This is what God wanted all along. A people set apart from other nations, who would teach other nations about the One True God.

God tells Moses to tell the Hebrew people, in Deuteronomy 14:2, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. It is you the Lord has chosen out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

Yet, the people of Israel insisted they needed a king, so they could be like all the other nations. Verses 6-8 of 1 Samuel 8, tell us, ‘But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods,–”’

The vision I see is God breathing a big sigh and saying, ‘All right have your way. You’ll be sorry, but I’m tired of your nagging.’ Kind of like my mother when I kept it up and kept it up until she got tired of my nagging; and gave in to me going to the beach party!

But God said to Samuel, warn them what a king will do. A king will draft their sons into the army, he’ll take their daughters and make them be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. A king will take their best fields and vineyards and olive orchards and one-tenth of their grain; and their male and female slaves and the best of their cattle and donkeys. A king will take one-tenth of their flocks and make the people slaves.

In verse 18 we read, “And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Yet the people insist, “—we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations,–”(vv. 19-20) In other words, everybody else is doing it, so we want to!

God tells Samuel to do as they say, and in chapter 10, a man named Saul is chosen to be Israel’s first king. Saul was tall, handsome and courageous. He led many battles which defeated the enemies of Israel. He greatest successes were when he obeyed God, and his greatest failures resulted from acting on his own. Saul had the raw materials to be a good leader—appearance, courage, and a man of action. Even his weaknesses could have been used by God if Saul had recognized them. He eventually made choices that cut him off from God and alienated him from his own people. He chose his own will over God’s. Never a good thing.

The point we do not want to miss from this incident is that from the beginning of the Hebrew people, God’s intention was for them to be a unique nation, one that was under his direct governance. That’s why when human organizers were needed, God called people be leaders needed for that particular time, but not kings to reign over the nation in an ongoing line of kings. In telling Samuel that they wanted to have a king “like other nations,” these elders were saying they wanted Israel to be something that God had not intended Israel to be.

Israel would have 5 good kings and 33 bad kings over the years. The good kings would turn to God for wisdom and the bad kings did what they wanted to do. The downfall of many a good man and woman.

Joshua was the leader of Israel after Moses. Joshua led the 12 tribes across the Jordan River into the land of milk and honey. He led armies who conquered the people there and he always chose to hear God’s voice and to obey.

He chose to make the One True God the god of his heart and his life. Joshua 24:14-15, Joshua tells the people, “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This must be our choice. To serve the Lord!

We Christians should not choose the ways of the world, thinking we need to blend in and be like everyone else. We Christians should not speak, act or look like everybody else. Our greatest sin is to be conformed to this world and not to be set apart as the Body of Christ. To be conformed to this world is to do things because everybody else is doing it!

The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As followers of Christ Jesus, our lives should exemplify the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. We should be more loving, more joy filled. People should be able to see the joy of Jesus in our eyes and in our attitude. We should display inner peace and work for peace in our world, beginning with our friends and family. We must be more patient, and kinder, more generous with the blessings God has blessed us with.

Our faith should sustain us in times of trouble, illness or the death of a loved one. As Christians we must be gentle with the people God puts into our life, and gentle to the world we live in, caring for it carefully. And as Christians we must have self-control over our sinful desires. When you look at the word sIn, what stands out is that the middle letter is I. Sin happens when we choose our self to be king of our life, instead of God. We make sinful choices, ‘because everybody else is doing it!”

In today’s American culture we are told over and over again that we will not be satisfied until we do this or have that. Yet God tells us that we will not be satisfied, be at peace and truly joyful, until we declare God the king of our heart and our life.
We do this by surrendering to the will of God instead of our own sinful nature. We do this by saying to Jesus, “I know I am a sinner. Forgive me. I surrender my heart and my life to you. I want you, Lord Jesus, to be the king of my heart. I give myself to you.”

You are probably thinking, I’m not a sinner, the person sitting next to me is. Yet, think about it. I’m a sinner. Sometimes I have thoughts I shouldn’t have, speak words I shouldn’t speak and do things I shouldn’t do. Why? Because I’ve put myself and I above God. I have to come again to Jesus and say, ‘Forgive me for the sin I have committed. I want you to be the king of my heart and my life.’ I surrender all.

Please, do not take this teaching lightly. We are all easily influenced by those around us. We often do things because others are doing it, or we want to blend in. We are rebellious human beings and we want things our way.

God tells us in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,–”

Please choose life in God through Jesus Christ, God’s son. Don’t say to God, “But Everybody Else Is Doing It.” That will be your downfall, just as it was the downfall of the nation of Israel. Choose God! Choose life!

Pastor Rosemary

© 2017 White Pine Community United Methodist Church

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