For a society which supposedly values individuality so highly, it s funny how much most people in America want to be just like everybody else. A crazy hairdo soon becomes everyone s crazy hairdo. A fashion statement soon becomes everyone s fashion statement. Before long, people are expressing their individuality in exactly the same way. This idea of wanting to fit in and be like everyone else has been around for a very long time, but is extremely dangerous in our pursuit of a right relationship with God.
1 Sam 8:19-20 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No, but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."
In this account, the people of Israel have grown tired of God being their only king. They no longer want the system of government that God has set up, but instead they want to be just like the nations around them. They are willing to transgress what God wants to be like everyone else. As Christians, both individually and as a local church, we can t be concerned about fitting in with the actions of others. As soon as we start looking to others as our guides, we lose sight of our only guide, the Word of God. Thus, when we change something about ourselves, we must be absolutely certain that the change is merited by God s Word. We should have no doubt that it is something that will bring us closer to what He wants us to be. It is only then that we will truly fit-in as we should with God s Word, rather than those around us.
However, I think that there is another application to be made from this text. It would have been just as rebellious of the Israelites if God had told them He wanted them to have a king and they refused because the nations around them all had kings. So too, it is wrong for us to suggest that we can t do certain things because the churches around us do those things. For example, to say that we can t have PowerPoint because the churches around us have PowerPoint, or we can t have bible classes because the churches around us have bible classes, or we can t start at 9:00 a.m. because the churches around us start at 9:00 a.m. would be silly. The churches around us should have virtually no influence on how we study, live, teach, and worship. While we should be aware of what is going on around us so we can be prepared to confront false doctrine or acknowledge sound judgment and correct biblical arguments, our primary focus should be on following God s Word and doing all that we can to proclaim His message to others regardless of the actions of those around us. We should not desire to be like the churches around us, just to be like them, but we shouldn t base who we are on not being like them. Who we are should only be based on the Word and following it in all that we do. I fear that we often react so harshly to the false doctrine of those around us that we take the opposite extreme an extreme that is just as wrong. As Christians, our only reaction should be to the truth, and we should want the truth in unbiased form (see below). So let us focus on making our actions acceptable based on the Word, not the nations around us.