I believe each of us longs to be unique and special—one of a kind—in some way or another. Yet, at the same time, we want to be like everyone else. We want to stand out, but not too much. We want to be different, but part of the crowd. It’s an age-old struggle.

The people of ancient Israel were proud to be God’s chosen ones: descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; rescued from Egyptian slavery by Moses and a powerful, miracle-working God. And yet sometimes, like many pastor’s kids, they just wanted to be like everyone else.

When the nation first formed, they had no human ruler; God was their King. But the Israelites looked around and felt like they were missing something. God’s prophet, Samuel, tried to explain how a human ruler would disappoint and exploit them. Unlike God who freely gives His children all they need, human kings, even the best ones, have needs of their own. They are tempted by power, lust, and wealth.

But the people wouldn’t listen. “‘We want a king over us. Then 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).

The Israelites wanted to follow someone they could see.

Christians today struggle with this as well. We want to please God. We want to think and behave differently than the world. However, there’s still a part of us that wants to blend in. If we’re honest, our hearts are divided. Sometimes it’s easier to follow a person we can see and touch—even if only through the media—than the unseen God we must follow by faith.

Thankfully, God does not always give us what we ask for, or demand. But when He does, He lets us know the dangers involved. God told Samuel to appoint a king for the people, and to let them know what their disobedience would cost. But, also, like a loving Father, the blessings that would be theirs if they carefully followed these instructions (1 Samuel 12:24):

  • Don’t turn away from the Lord
  • Serve Him with all your heart
  • Don’t pursue worthless idols
  • Fear God; serve him faithfully and wholeheartedly
  • Consider what great things he has done for you  

We are in great danger when we invite anyone or anything else to sit on the throne of our heart. Or when we seat ourselves in God’s place.

The progression begins with a simple turn of the head, to look at something compelling, beautiful, or alluring. Without a thought, we look away from our King.

Once we’re distracted, we may continue to serve God, but only halfheartedly. Just going through the motions.

Eventually, we begin to pursue other gods—people or things that cannot satisfy or love us. Worthless, temporary, destructive.

How can we stay focused and serve our God wholeheartedly? By pausing regularly, daily, to consider what great things He has done for us. Even though this world is full of heartache and struggles, we have reasons to praise God. Jesus provided a path of hope for us. He broke the chains of sin and death that seek to keep us in bondage. Jesus paid the price so we do not have to suffer in despair. And He is preparing a home in heaven for those who worship only Him.

His reign has already begun. Is He your King?

Something to consider.