June 6, 2021
1 Samuel 8:4-7
Mt. Zion UMC
Mountain View District
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
1 Samuel 8:4-7
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “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.
DevotionalHere is a simple; and yet, profound exercise. In what area of life does God disagree with you? Of course, we all make mistakes and commit sins. But the question goes beyond that. Does God agree with every area of your world view? Does God agree with all your attitudes and assumptions? Is there an area of life where God disagrees with you?
This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer for most people. We know God is disappointed with our occasions of sin. However, most of us assume that God agrees with our fundamental world views and ways of life; and, there are powerful reasons why this is true.
Psychologists call it “belongingness.” We have a human need to fit in with our family, friends, social circle, community, and culture. The need is more than emotional desire. It actually becomes a physical need as well. Neurological studies have shown that when there is a chance of finding ourselves outside our social norms, the brain is stimulated in the same area as when we are under physical attack. Just think about how strongly our bodies react when we fear physical pain. Our brains have similar reactions when we might experience social exclusion. This motivates us to live in the illusion that God always agrees with us because our family, friends, social group and church agrees with us. We seem to believe that an iron clad, irrefutable point to any argument is, “That’s just the way I was raised.” We live in the assumption that we must be right because the people important to us say so.
The nation of Israel shows us that God doesn’t necessarily agree just because we are following a standard social pattern. In 1 Samual 8, Israel wants a king because everyone else has one. It is not what God wants. It is not what their beloved leader, Samual, wants. It is what everyone else is doing, so the allure is strong - overwhelmingly strong. It is so powerful that God allows it. It seems God knows that the psychological and physical need to fit in is so strong, there is no use trying to talk them out of it. God accepts the rejection and allows them to proceed.
This is a call to the spiritual life. It is a call to a life of prayer and connection to the Spirit. We need to know that there are powerful emotional, psychological, and neurological forces that will compel us to fit in. We will feel most comfortable when we are in lockstep with our family, social, and cultural norms. It is normal, then, to simply assume that God agrees. It is the work of the spiritual person to allow the will of God to be even more powerful. A follower of Christ is called to do the difficult work of seeking God’s opinion over all others.