On Nov. 6, a great and tragic event may occur in America. We will have an election for president and king of our country. I say president and king because many people tend to view the office much that way. And because they do, it becomes the tragedy of our own making.
In the book of I Samuel, Chapter 8, the story is told of how Godâ€™s people became dissatisfied and afraid of their current administration (namely Samuel) and petitioned Samuel to â€œappoint for us a king to govern us like all the other nations.â€ The idea made Samuel angry because they did not trust God but rather chose to be â€œlike all the other nations.â€
The story is a classic example of the confrontation between faith and fear. It includes the warnings of such earthly leaders and indicates that it will be a tragedy the people will regret. However, if they insist, a leader will be given. The closing episode of the confrontation has the ominous warning, yet the people continue their request. â€œNo! But we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us to fight our battles.â€
I feel these last few words by the people betray some of the underlying motives that had plagued men and politics ever since they have existed. The people wanted things done for them, a Messiah to deliver them from everything; things they chose not to do for themselves or allow God to do for them. And so government and politics seems to have become somewhat of a necessary evil with inherent weaknesses.
As we watch our own 2012 presidential race, we should be able to see some of this. As â€œmud-slingingâ€ and outlandish promises are made, we should see that the people we elect are, at best, no better than the rest of us. They are not especially divine. They are not the worldâ€™s authority on any given subject. Many promises they make, no one could possibly keep. Many other well-intentioned ideas will never materialize. And I imagine, some of what they said, they wish they had never said at all.
I write all this to say, simplyâ€¦We are electing a person to help our government operate. If we are electing a king, to do our part for us, we are most wrong. As you vote, remember what you are voting for and help others do the same. On Election Day, we will not be electing a Messiah!
(PS. We already have oneâ€¦)
Joseph M. Westfall is a bi-vocational minister living in Oak Ridge. Since 1975, his ministry has covered pastoral positions in 17 churches across several denominational lines in six different states. He has special training and experience in interim ministry for churches in transition. He has a Biblical style and teaching heart. He encourages honesty and relationship with the Holy Spirit. His favorite response to a sermon he has preached? â€œYou make me think!â€