Is is possible that we have begun to believe that our methods, personality, strategies, intellect, and gifts are more important to the spiritual health of the church than a contrite heart and repentance?
The nation of Israel in 1 Samuel came to the conclusion that what they really needed most was a new king.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” -1 Samuel 8:4-5
Israel thought that the most important change they could make was to establish a earthly king. Time to upgrade from judges to a king. Certainly that will fix what ails them. They were making decisions based on worldly wisdom, not the Word of God.
We know this because God informs Samuel that Israel’s desire to have an earthly king reflects the fact that they have lost interest in him being their One rightful king.
7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. -1 Samuel 8:7
Let’s be honest. We do this kind of thing in the church and in our personal life all the time, don’t we? Think through these questions with me. What do you think your church needs most? Better preaching? Better Worship Team? Better Children’s Ministry? More emphasis on Missions? You name it. The list could go on and on.
The same kind of question(s) could be asked regarding our personal lives. What do you think you need the most? More time? Better salary? Better spouse? New house? New career?
Leaders, when was the last time you went to a church conference where the theme was repentance? I wonder why that is. Have we lost sight of the “methods” that God uses to change lives and churches?
The point that God was desperate to get across to his people in 1 Samuel is that what they needed most was not merely to tweak their programs or their personal lives. What they needed most was to repent of their sins.
3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only. -1 Samuel 7:3
We could have the best of everything in our churches as far as staffing, resources, buildings, education, and strategy goes but if we are not seeking after God with all of our heart then it is all meaningless. Smoke with no fire. A show without substance.
One of the primary issues that is revealed in the book of 1 Samuel is that we all tend to seek after attractive substitutes (false kings) when we should be pursuing after God with a broken and contrite heart.
Blogging about this kind of stuff is really easy. I can type this out and my heart still be far from God. It would not be the first time that happened. Living it out is a whole different thing. I can say that 1 Samuel has created a strong conviction in my own life to turn from my pet sins and seek after God with a renewed sense of urgency and passion.