Israel wanted a king. For years God had acted as their provider, protector, and sovereign but in the face of mounting pressure from rival nations and the innate human desire to look and sound like everyone around them Israel wanted a change. They wanted a king that was made of flesh and blood. The prophet Samuel begged them to reconsider. He told them that a king would tax them, oppress them, force them to work for his pleasure, and take their sons off to war. The people were unswayed. It was a king of flesh that they wanted and so it was a king of flesh that God would provide.
When we meet Saul in the the book of 1 Samuel he is everything and more that the people wanted. He was tall, athletic, and handsome. If a group of people were in the market for a king and Saul walked in the room the search would always be over. Saul was king material...or so they thought. Saul proves to be a reflection of the people themselves. Just like Israel he was brash, prideful, arrogant, and quick to make hasty decisions that would have lasting consequences. In looking for a human king what the people really wanted was to see themselves on the throne. God would be rejected, Saul would be raised. Human kings would ultimately be the undoing of Israel.
It is a phenomenon of human history that a people’s ruler tend to be a mirror of the people themselves. Post World War I Germany saw a people licking their wounds from a rousing defeat and simmering with anger over perceived slights on the world stage. This sense of pride and a deep desire for nationalism gave birth to Adolf Hitler. On the flip side a fledgling nation in the late 1700s found in George Washington a leader full of humility and grace, but the society that he found his position in had been shaped and molded by the Great Awakening, an awakening that had led an entire populous to repentance and gospel. Leaders do not define the morality of a people, they are a reflection of it.
And so we find ourselves in America today scratching our heads over this particular time in our history. I have heard it said over and over, “How did we end up with these two as our choice for president?” On the outside looking in it is an absurd thought that out of the hundreds of millions of qualified people in our country we are days away from throwing the keys to one of the two of the most unqualified for the job. But if one looks deeper it actually makes so much sense. They are a reflection of who we have become. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are a reflecting pool into the state of our nation’s soul.
When a video was released revealing a man to us that has no respect for women, a man whose speech was filled with obscenity and vulgarity, a man who does not see the beauty in God’s creation of a daughter who is a reflection of his image, we see ourselves. We who are in the church will cry foul at this, but the reality is that our churches are filled with those who flock to the movies for a glimpse of 50 Shades, or DVR the vulgarity of Game of Thrones. We are unfazed by the fact that everything from toothpaste to car insurance is sold on the backs and bodies of our sisters and daughters sexuality. To stand on a perceived moral high ground and throw rocks at Donald Trump is laughable. We are him and he is us.
On the flip side we are now learning more concretely that Hillary Clinton is a liar and a cheat. She is a woman who will say and do anything to get ahead and feed her need for position and power. Welcome to the current definition of the American dream. We live by the idea that one should do whatever it takes to get ahead. The poor continue to suffer all around us, the American inner city is on fire with oppression and need, there are countless children who are locked in a social services system that is understaffed and underserved. The church is positioned to change the narrative and the reality of the story. We find in Hillary Clinton our doppleganger. Say and do anything to pad the pocket and climb the next rung on the ladder. We are throwing parties while our cities burn.
If a people’s leaders are a reflection of the people then the solution cannot be found in new leadership, it must be found in a new people. God knew that this would be the case. After ages of flesh and blood kings leading his people toward destruction God would do the unthinkable. John 1 tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The king of heaven became a king of flesh and blood. Jesus was not a reflection of the people he was a reflection of the Father. To look on him is to see the perfection of the Kingdom of Heaven. We have beheld his glory, the glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. To look upon him is to be changed into his image. To pledge allegiance to his kingdom is to find security and hope. To walk in his footsteps is to see the world set on fire with the hope of his promises. If we want the landscape of our country and our leadership to change, the formula is right before us. Look to Jesus. Hope in Jesus. Seek the Kingdom of Jesus.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are not the problem, they are the wake up call. We see in them ourselves. We see in them a call to repentance and prayer. A new president cannot save us....Jesus can.