But the people refused to listen to Samuel and said, “No! There must be a king over us so we can be like all the other nations.” – 1 Samuel 8:19-20a
This passage reveals the make-or-break point of faith.
Israel started out trusting the manna-giving God then, when safe and secure, they wanted a king. That way they could start political/religious parties, develop a national religion that would endorse state policies, and argue a lot.
Father Richard Rohr summarized this clearly: “God has communicated in a million ways that ‘I am your power,’ but we do not believe and trust what we cannot see or prove. Instead, we bow down to lesser kings (like institutions, nations, wars, ideologies, etc.) that we can see, even when they serve us quite poorly.” (Daily Meditation, 6/30/21)
The challenge for us in living our faith authentically is to get back to the heart of our spirituality. I’d call that, “Purely Seeking Jesus,” or PSJ.
Meditate and pray over the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) for a week. Then read Mark in one sitting; a chapter or two in John daily; or Jesus’ parables in Luke.
There is something pure, sweet, confrontive, compelling, and life-changing in simply seeking to get closer to Jesus. He reveals the rough, sandpaper spots on our spirits. He accepts us anyway. And he gently puts an arm around our shoulders and points us to new ways of living and serving.
I truly believe that if we focused more on Jesus, we’d argue a lot less. Those ideologies and false-kingdoms we’ve built, including denominations, wouldn’t be so confining, infuriating, and power-sapping.
Also, when there’s less to argue about, we might discover more in common with others than we think.
Jesus destroys our kingdom-making, so his kingdom gains a foothold in our hearts.