King - One Who Leads By Service

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 8, 2012 1 comments

A few months ago, I went to lunch at a popular local restaurant for the first time. The establishment is one of those places that everyone in town knows because it's right downtown on the main street, is privately owned, and has been here for years. I had heard a lot about the food and I had time one day, so I went to check it out. While I had heard a lot about the food, no one had really told me anything about the environment, which was quite surprising. I don't really know how to describe the inside of the restaurant other than to say it had an overwhelming "hippie" feel to it. Now, hopefully you understand that I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. I am simply trying to allow you to picture the environment. The furniture was rainbow-colored, there were peace signs everywhere, and various expressions of artistic flavor covered the walls. My perception became reality when my name was called to come to the counter to get my food. A woman, who I later discovered was one of the managers, called my name plainly the first time and then called me a second time as "King Logan". I walked to the counter smiling and said, "Really?" Her response was, "Yeah, aren't you the ruler of your universe?" Now, hindsight being 20/20, that was a perfect opportunity to share that Jesus is the King of not only my universe but THE universe and I missed that opportunity. But it was a great reminder for me that most people associate the word "king" with a sense of autonomy and power that means making your own rules and the ones that everyone under you has to follow.

I think that, if we look at Scripture, we see that this idea of kingship caused a lot of turmoil for a lot of people, especially those individuals who were fortunate enough (at least in the eyes of the world) to be given the position. I wrote several weeks ago about King Nebuchadnezzar, whose power and authority literally made him delusional to the point where he built a 90-foot tall idol to in effect declare that his kingdom would last forever. We also know about King Herod, who was eaten by worms. Many of the books of the Old Testament are full of the names of other kings whose power and corruption ultimately led to their demise.

What amazes me more than anything about the Israelites of the Old Testament is that they actually asked for this garbage! Take a look at 1 Samuel 8. It was written at a time in history when Israel was led by judges. All the other pagan nations around them had kings, but Israel had not needed a king because the Lord himself was their king. Now, that doesn't mean they didn't have leaders. The elders and judges led the people, but there was an understanding that they were merely servants of the Lord Almighty, who literally sustained the people AND fought for them in battle. If you're not familiar with the history in the Old Testament, it probably sounds weird to you that an invisible God could sustain and fight for His people. I don't have room here to describe all of the great stories in the Old Testament, but I urge you to read for yourself about how God dropped manna (which was described as being "bread-like") from heaven and provided quail when the people were hungry (Exodus 16), how He produced water from a rock when they were thirsty (Exodus 17), how He destroyed a whole enemy army at once with the Red Sea (Exodus 14) AFTER keeping that same army away from His people by using a thick cloud to block them for a whole night (Exodus 13), and how God brought down the entire city of Jericho through His people's praises (Joshua 6). Those were just to name a few, but there are many more stories of God's provision and protection.

But then we come to the story in 1 Samuel 8. Samuel was getting too old to lead the people and that traditionally meant that he would pass the title on down to his sons. But v. 3 tells us that his sons "turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice". So, with the Israelites kind of being out of options for a new judge, they decided they wanted to be "like all the other nations" and told Samuel to appoint a king "to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles" (v. 20). Let me just tell you, friends, that anytime we as God's people willfully choose something that makes us like those who do not follow God, we are falling for Satan's deception. It is the great trick of the devil to make us believe that we'd be better off being like the world rather than living as a consecrated people. Samuel took the request of the people to the Lord, who then assured him it was not Samuel they were rejecting, but the Lord as king (v. 7). The Lord told Samuel to warn the people of how the human king would reign over and oppress them, but the people didn't care. They demanded a king and that is what they got.

God gave His people what they wanted, and Saul was appointed as Israel's king. As promised, he began as a faithful man of God and was corrupted by his own need for power, which ultimately led to his choice to take his own life. After that was David, who was called "a man after God's own heart". David followed God, but was also led into sin by His own power and sense of entitlement. Later, Solomon was king and was possibly one of the wisest people who ever lived. Yet, even he was led astray by his many foreign wives and concubines. The Old Testament lists the stories and records of many more kings who were downright wicked and caused great harm to the beloved nation of Israel. Most of the wickedness was due to the fact that they became drunk with power and abandoned their faith in the true King of Kings in favor of their evil desires.

All of the centuries and centuries of wicked kings led Israel to a point when, for 400 years, God did not even speak to them. Do you think maybe He wanted them to learn their lesson? But then, while no one was expecting it and many were not ready, the King of Kings came to the earth in the flesh. The Christ came to the earth in the person of Jesus and revealed to both Jews and Gentiles what it meant to truly be KING. He was despised and rejected by many because he did not fit into their image of a king. Even his own disciples followed him because they believed he was there to kick butt and take names. The last thing they asked him before he disappeared into heaven was whether or not he was going to do what THEY EXPECTED (Acts 1:6). Make no mistake about it; Jesus could have conquered by force if that was what the Father called him to do. But it wasn't. The only way he could truly "fight our battle for us" was to defeat the one thing that threatened us way beyond what any man, nation, or revolt could - SIN. To defeat sin, he had to take on the fullness of God's wrath at the hands of humans, give up his last breath, and then rise from the depths of the grave three days later. Many assumed he couldn't have possibly been their great king as they watched him get "conquered" by their human enemies. They envisioned a society where they were the ones who held power over other nations and expected Jesus to lead them to that point. But, as Jesus said and demonstrated, you have to become a servant to be great. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

So what do you expect from your king? If you are in a position of power or desire it, what is your assumption about what that will bring? By the time you read this, we will know who our president is for the next four years and many of you will be disappointed one way or another. Regardless of who is in power, do you want that person to lead by conquering the opposition and everything they stand for, which would only breed more dissension, or would you like to see our elected president lead by service even to those with whom he disagrees? If you want your leader to be more like Christ, the answer is obvious. We need to pray for all of our leaders to truly be servants. And when God chooses to bless us by putting us in positions of "kingship", we need to remember the example that was set for us by the true King of Kings!


Bill Seng said...

Very well put Logan! You really hit the nail right on the head! We are not the kings of our own universe, rather, Jesus is Lord of all. We are in his service who was the ultimate example to us and expects us to serve others the same way he served us :)