The balloons are gone, the confetti has been swept up by the cleaning crews all too glad to earn a little overtime, and the booming monosyllabic chants have dwindled to less than a whisper. It is over, yet it is just beginning. The people have spoken, the world has heard, history has been made, and now the nation must live with its choice. Whatever the future might hold, make no mistake, the American Church is complicit and culpable. Come what may, the Christian Church will have had a hand in it, and we will have to deal with it, accept it, and own up to it for better or worse.
So what caused the exodus? What was it that caused so many self proclaimed Christians feel so disaffected, so marginalized that they felt the need to make a statement, to substitute the reality of the situation for the illusion that was being presented to them? Just as it was in the time of kings, in fact immediately before the time of the first king of Israel, the people have gotten disillusioned with the spiritual leadership of their day.
You see, I believe the American Church, especially the leaders of the American Church must bear the burden more heavily than any other, for long before the first vote was cast, their actions and their choices caused the sheep to count them as nothing more than jesters, farceurs, men of no moral compass, who would align themselves with anyone they thought would profit them in the long term.
The son of King David, the man who was arguably the smartest man to ever live once wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. Although we might think as a nation we’ve done something unprecedented, new, never before seen, and historic, the reality is that upon closer inspection nothing is as original as it appears.
The prophet Samuel was getting old, his strength was fading. Samuel had served the God of Israel faithfully for many a year, he had fulfilled that which God had commanded, but now the time had come to pass the mantle, to make way for the next generation of judges over Israel. Samuel chose his sons, perhaps in hindsight not the most appropriate replacements as judges over Israel, hoping that the apple wouldn’t fall too far from the paternal tree, that they would maintain a standard of righteousness as their father had.
If Samuel’s love for his sons blinded him to what they had become, greedy, immoral men who turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice, the people were all too keen on what was happening. The people were not blinded by love, or a sense of loyalty, they saw the truth, uncomfortable as it might have been, and decided to approach Samuel on the matter.
To parallel the days of old to today is an easy task. We remember fondly the men of God who came before us, those who seem as giants to us even to this day, and wonder even if only in those private times of thought and introspection where such men are today. Gone are the days of a shepherd knowing every one of his sheep by name, gone are the days of pastors dropping in to visit with a parishioner and break bread with him or her, gone are the days of a shepherd being ready to sacrifice of himself for the sake of his sheep. Yes, at least in large part those days are gone. They have however been replaced with bodyguards, bullet proof cars, mansions, vacation homes, a demand for blind loyalty to the man and not to God, and ever larger monolithic temples of indifference where every song, every prayer, every humor filled and anecdotal sermon is geared toward separating the sheep from their wool.
At first it may have been a bit off-putting, all the attention, all the lights, but when they start offering you a mint for some self-esteem drivel you penned one rainy afternoon for lack of something better to do, you just go along with it. What of the people? What of the sheep? Well the sheep should have known better, they should have been a bit more self-sufficient.
The sheep have spoken, and it was a message directed specifically to the leadership of the American Church, but I wonder if the leadership understands it, or even cares anymore. Just as it was in the time of Samuel and his sons, the leaders are not doing their job anymore, they have strayed from the path of truth, they have strayed from righteousness and the word of God, corrupting and being corrupted in such an obvious manner that the people finally said, if you will not be what you pretend to be, what you’re supposed to be, then we want a king.
In our never ending quest to become more like the world, a large majority of the American Church finally realized a simple truth: Why strive to be more like the world, when we can simply be of the world? No matter how good, a forgery is still a forgery. Why not embrace the real thing? It’s what the preachers have been preaching from the pulpits the past couple decades anyway. Why not take that final step? When you strip the word of God of its virtue, when you bury the truth for fear of offense, when for a piece of the political influence pie, you are willing to part with your values and your morals, how much longer before you reject God altogether?
“Make for us a king to judge us like all the nations” the people cried to Samuel, for your sons are corrupt, they pervert justice, and they do not walk before God in the same manner you once did. It mattered not if the king was good, it mattered not if he was noble or godly, righteous or merciful, they just wanted a king. Make for us a king, create him, make the illusion real enough that for a season we will cheer and we will revel.
‘Yes, a king, like all the nations, because anything is better than the hypocrisy we see in your sons Samuel. Anything is better than seeking after the truth and not finding it, going to the house of God and discovering he has been banished. A king, yes, a king that will solve everything.”
I could only imagine the heartbreak Samuel felt, not only at the request of the people, but also at the failure of his sons. I wonder what the past generation, those that have already gone to their reward, would think of the men that have risen to the leadership positions in today’s church. I often wonder at their reaction if they were to hear just one sermon that these men preached on any given Sunday. There are few tragedies more pronounced within the church, than when the Bible becomes nothing more than just another prop piece, when it remains on a pulpit, shiny black leather with gold embossed lettering, unopened, unquoted, dismissed and marginalized. How can Christians be so misled? How can Christians make choices contrary, and in direct opposition to the Word? They have been so far removed from the Word for so long, and they have been so distant from the truth for such an extended period of time that they confuse the desires of their own hearts, and their own imaginings with the voice of God. God will not contradict His word, nor will He encourage you to do something outside the boundaries of the Bible.
Samuel went before the Lord, grieved in his heart that the people wanted a king, and the Lord said the Samuel, ‘heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you but they have rejected Me that I should not reign over them.’
Even though the sons of Samuel did not walk in his ways, even though they had turned aside to dishonest gain, God still saw the fact that the people wanted a king to rule over them, a personal insult, and His people rejecting Him.
Rather than forego the surrogates, rather than forego the straw men who have assigned themselves more power and authority than Biblically allowed, and seek the face of God directly, the people choose to do away with God altogether, to reject Him based on what a handful of wolves in sheep’s clothing have done. Just as the people of Israel rejected God due to the sins of the sons of Samuel, so is a large portion of the American Church rejecting God due to the sins of unscrupulous and unscriptural shepherds.
Israel found an excuse to come out from under God’s laws in the sons of Samuel, just as much of the church found an excuse in the spineless and duplicitous leaders they have chosen to lead them. No more of this unyielding God, no more of this God of standards and immovable steadfastness, now we have a king, a king who understands us, who can be persuaded. We are now become like all the nations we are now become what we always wanted to be, no longer blessed, protected or sheltered of God, no longer bound by the Word, no longer accountable. We wanted a king, and now we have a king, consequences notwithstanding. It matters not what comes tomorrow, if we have a king today.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.