I love to read about history. From a young age I’ve dreamed of what it would have been like to travel with Lewis and Clark, rustle steers with Billy the Kid, stand with Jackson, charge with Custer, ride with Ford, march with Black Jack, or land a Hellcat on the bobbing deck of an aircraft carrier. This simply puts me among the many who have ever opened the pages of a book; a dream to live in a time that has come and gone.
As I’ve grown older I’ve realized some things about myself and my attachment to what is past. There seems to be a melancholic strain within each one of us. Some may lean towards the trumpeting section of brave men and women who lived as if life was simply to be conquered. Others may strain to hear the simple accompaniment of the cello and notice those who have toiled along giving peace and comfort to those around them. Still others seek to separate the orchestra in groups and pretend as if they are not all necessary to create the wonderful beautiful sound that can almost overwhelm our souls when every note harmonizes perfectly.
Why must it seem that we constantly move in a circular pattern? Why is it that smart people; people who have great wisdom and ability in their fields of study and work become so simple when it comes to their cultural choices and their promotions of leaders? Why is it that we at all times seem destined to repeat that which we have read about in the past? Why can we not see that riding in a train with no brakes is worse than plodding along in the dust?
In my state today it is Election Day. We are primarily voting for our local representatives; sheriff, commissioner, clerk of court, etc. As I cast my vote I think of Adolf Hitler. I don’t think of Adolf Hitler because of any of these candidates but rather because Adolf Hitler was himself elected into power by a group of intelligent, industrious people, the German citizens of the 1930’s. Yes, I know that in 1933 Hitler called for new elections and his party manipulated and bullied those results. However, the irrevocable fact is that Hitler began his career because others were willing to bet on him. In retrospect this is almost unbelievable.
Why did they do this? Why do we elect people whom we never hold responsible for their actions or avoid speaking against when it is potentially harmful to us? For me much of this answer can be found in the story of Israelites and their desire for a king. There was no king at their head when Pharaoh threw them out of Egypt. Nor was a king present a short time later when Pharaoh’s army was destroyed in the Red Sea as he sought to reclaim what he mistakenly thought belonged to him. No king gave the order to march around Jericho, nor was it a king that ordered an attack on the Philistine nobles that resulted in the deaths of many of their leaders, in this instance it was a blind man who called out to God for the power and hope that he had abandoned by serving himself. Yet, they wanted what they felt they must have to be like the nations around them – a leader who would put their interests first. (Read about this throughout Judges and 1 Samuel)
Folks, it seems to be man’s self-focused, self-reliant nature that calls out for a king. We must have someone to rule over us! Even those who claim they don’t desire a king would gladly submit to a king if they could receive what they wanted and desired. Our thirst, our desire is the same desire that flooded the minds of Adam and Eve as the Tempter twirled his evil lie; you will be like gods!
It is authority that we lust after. It consumes us. It propels us and in the end it leaves us slaves to those who would gain from our willingness to sell our souls for a momentary feeling of greatness or self-assurance. Remember the words of Jesus: Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Don’t claim authority over anything, for you don’t have it to claim. Don’t seek authority over anything for it’s not yours to earn or possess. Live in His authority. When we live in His authority the circular pattern of our culture may not change but for the believer there are two large signposts constantly pointing out a straight and narrow path before us:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
Love your neighbor as yourself