Christianity has grown rather clingy. As the world takes more and more small steps away from this faith, we seem to be grabbing onto whichever celebrity or politician that happens to come floating by. If a famous actor mentions God in a speech, we adopt him as our new spokesperson. If a politician claims that the Bible is a favorite book, we hail him as the next great hope for our nation. It’s like the America we know and love, that Christian-friendly place, has taken a hike up to the mountain, and we, like the Israelites down below, are working with all our might to build some semblance of an idol that we can look to and believe in.
Eventually those same Israelites turned to Samuel and demanded a king. (1 Samuel 8) They had a King. The Great I Am. The Alpha and Omega. God Almighty was their good and perfect ruler. But, that wasn’t enough for them. The Creator of the Universe just didn’t fit the bill for the kind of king that they felt they needed. They wanted to be like the other nations. Samuel, why can’t WE have a guy in a crown that we can bow down to? they whined. Why can’t we have a flesh and blood master to rule over us?
God gave them what they wanted. They preferred a sin-sick, flawed, wicked-at-heart human being over Him. They wanted to be ruled by a man who would have a tendency toward evil because, hey, at least they could see him. At least they could look and act like all the other nations who were being run by corrupt humans.
Thus, came a long line of kings, some good, but the vast majority were bad, very bad, or downright villainous. The people got what they asked for.
Fast forward to the appearance of Jesus. The descendants of those unwise Israelites were still looking for a ruler who would make them powerful like other nations, especially the Romans. And, here came Jesus. God in the flesh. He came to talk about the ways that sin was killing them. About how dark and depraved their hearts really were. About how the real issue with humanity has nothing to do with who has the political power, and everything to do with who knows God the Father in a real, born-again, self-denying, God-glorifying way. And, still, the majority of them missed the point. (John 6:15) And, by the time King Jesus ascended to heaven to reign forever, most of His early followers had already moved on to the next big thing, clinging to flawed human beings, convinced that political dominance was the way of God. Completely forgetting, of course, the lowly, humble, servant life of the Son of God, they continued in their search for strength among the earthly kingdoms that they could see and touch and put their faith in.
And, here we are. Spiritual descendants of the very Israelites who built that golden calf in the desert. Of the Hebrews who turned to Samuel with their fists balled up, demanding that God give them something lesser so that they could feel more important. We are really no different than the followers of Jesus who forgot all about the words He said and the life He lived, looking instead to wicked human beings who might have enough guts to gain some political power for a humbled people. We have an eternally perfect, all-powerful, all-knowing, unceasingly good, incorruptibly wise King. Jesus Christ.
But, what we really want is an earthly king.
And, so we cling to personalities and promises of hope. We cling to influencers and self-promoters, and we follow the money and the clout, sure that if we keep clinging desperately to one of these flawed humans, eventually one of them is going to turn everything around for us.
No earthly king is ever going to satisfy. No amount of political power is ever going to save us. God’s kingdom isn’t measured in how well “Christian” issues are doing in the polls. Man looks at the outward appearance. We look at how many rights Christians have and how much freedom that we enjoy. We look at how our morals are reflected in the political landscape. We think if our chosen politicians are winning, then that means God is winning. We think if there are enough Christian movies at the box office and enough Christian music on the radio, then Jesus is being properly honored. Therefore, we, His children, are being properly honored. If the laws line up with our faith, then God is being respected, and so are we. It feels so much better when Jesus is popular. And when we are popular. And when the ideals of our faith are popular.
If we could just find that one celebrity endorsement that would make us cool again.
We keep searching. God holds us tightly in His never-tired grip, and we keep desperately grasping for other kings.
Why are we so panicked? Where can the frenzy of worry lead us except back that same old spot, where we forget who the real Leader is and start piecing together an idol to cling to? The government. The politician. The celebrity pastor. The Supreme Court Justice. The personality. The money. They are all just different versions of the same golden calf. Inferior kings. Corrupt, ineffective, disappointing saviors.
But, there is One who has been faithful in every promise He ever made. Governments rise and fall. People make mistake after mistake. But, Jesus Christ never changes. He never fails. And, He reigns now and forever, regardless of how the United States of America may feel about it. That’s my king. I cling to Him alone.
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:16