Wednesday, June 1, 2022

           In I Samuel 8, the people of Israel complain about their lack of a king.  They voice their discontent and anger to Samuel.  Many in Israel desired to be like other nations with a king to rule over them and to lead them.  The people said, “Now appoint a king to lead us such as all the other nations have” (I Samuel 8:5b).  Immediately, we can see a problem in the people’s thinking.  And it is the same problem we can suffer from on occasion.  The problem is believing that happiness and contentment come from getting what other people have.  We fall victim to “if only” think.  “If I only had this or that, I would be happy and everything would be good.”  We begin to pursue contentment based on what we find in others.  We fall prey to thinking that everything will automatically improve if we could only be more like this person or that situation.
            If you would like to have more square footage in your house, buying new furniture will not fix that problem.  Similarly, trying to be like everyone else will probably not bring contentment and peace to a life that is lacking both.  Trying to be like someone else’s life is a lot like putting a size nine shoe on a foot that seeds a size fourteen.  Shaquille O’Neal cannot wear your shoes or mine.  He is a much bigger man.  Comparative happiness is short-lived at best.  Drawing comparisons with others will usually leave us more frustrated because we cannot live someone else’s life.
            A little further in I Samuel 8 we read, “And the LORD told Samuel: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected as their king but me” (I Samuel 8:7).  In their pursuit of a king and to be like other nations, the people had rejected God in the process.  It is easy to lose sight of the Lord when we are in hot pursuit of something that we believe to be a difference-maker in life.  We can pursue bigger and better things, more of something and a newer version of this or that and lose sight of God.  I have met many people who reflect upon years and even decades of wasted and lost time when God was not a factor or feature in their lives.  They were consumed by jobs, vacations, pleasure, good times, money and a hundred other things.  But the common factor in each case was trading God for the elusive belief that something else would make all the difference and bring the happiness that they so desperately craved and desired.
            Any pursuit that rules out God is a fruitless and empty activity.  We can no more find contentment without the pursuit of God than an orchestra can perform a concert without instruments.  Israel failed to realize their desire for a king was a rejection of God.  And when we attempt to replace God with anything else then we have rejected Him too.  Rejecting God rarely happens all at once.  And those who reject God will likely fail to see their rejection as clearly as they should.  The enemy has blinded them.  Those who reject God in their lives rarely go so far as to declare that there is no God.  They just simply live like there is no God.  Functional atheism is one of the biggest challenges churches face today.  Functional atheism is where we may profess faith in God but He places practically no role in how we order our lives.  We never read the Bible.  We only pray when we are in trouble.  We worship when convenient.  We do not tithe.  We may not give at all.  We do little if anything to grow our faith.  We pay lip-service to the Lord and say the right things but inside we are hollow and empty because we have functionally and practically rejected Him and written him out of our lives.           
          Children and grandchildren will directly learn from this functional atheism and likely grow up to live just as badly or, more likely, even worse.  Passive Christians and believers usually produce children and grandchildren that are wholly disconnected and cut off from God altogether.  If God plays no role in our lives from day to day, then how can we expect to hear the Lord say anything less than “depart from me, I never knew you?”  These words are hard to hear.  But you and I can do something now to reverse course and change where we are.  If we hear these words in eternity, it is far too late to do anything.  Is there a rejection of God that you need to walk back today?
            The message from I Samuel is simple and clear.  Do not reject the Lord.  Do no trade the Lord for the pursuit of other things.  Do not build a life apart from the Lord.  Embrace Him, love Him, worship Him, serve Him and walk with Him.  The words we read from I Samuel come as a wake-up call—get your life in order and do not settle for the same old things you have been doing!   Remember you can share our worship any time at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.  Join us tonight for our Hillbilly Supper with entertainment provided by the Main Street Kids.  I hope your Wednesday is a good day!

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