Can we love a King?
"Then Pilate said unto him, Art thou yet a king? Jesus answered, "You said it: I am a king. I was born and came into the world to bear witness to the truth. He who is of the truth hears my voice. (John 18:37)
"Behold, in righteousness shall a king reign, and princes shall rule as it is right, 2 That every one of them shall be as a refuge from the wind, and as a shelter from the downpour, as rivers of water in the dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in the dry land. 3 And the eyes of the seeing shall no more be veiled, and the ears of the hearing shall give heed. 4 And the heart of the careless will learn prudence, and the tongue of the stammering will speak fluently and clearly. 5 No longer will a fool be called a prince, nor a deceiver be called noble. 6 For a fool speaketh folly, and his heart deviseth mischief, to do wickedly, and speaketh lies against the LORD: so he maketh hungry the hungry souls, and withholdeth drink from the thirsty. 7 And the weapons of the deceiver are evil; he deviseth deceit, to destroy the wretched with false words, even when the poor man pleadeth his right. 8 But the noble man has noble thoughts and perseveres in noble things. (Isaiah 32:1 ff)
"I seek the lost sheep and bring back all who have strayed from the fold. If one of the animals has broken a leg, I will bandage it, and I will help up the sick ones. But I do not let the fat and strong animals out of my sight! For I am a shepherd who deals well and justly with his sheep." (Ezekiel 34:16)
9 I alone am the door. Whoever comes to my flock through me will be saved. He can come in and go out through this door, and he will find lush green pastures. 10 The thief comes to steal, to slaughter and to destroy. But I bring life - and this in abundance. 11 I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 It is different with one to whom the sheep do not belong and who works as a shepherd only because of the money. He flees when the wolf comes and leaves the sheep to themselves. The wolf falls upon the sheep and chases the flock apart. 13 Such a man cares nothing for the sheep. 14 But I am the good shepherd and know my sheep, and they know me; 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep. 16 My flock also includes sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them too, and they, like the rest, will follow my voice. Then there will be only one flock and one shepherd. 17 The Father loves me because I lay down my life to receive it anew. 18 No one takes my life from me; I give it freely. I have the power and the freedom to give it and take it. This is the commission I have received from my Father." (John 10:1 ff)
"For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." ( Matthew 12:8)
My dear friends and brothers and sisters,
"But he is my daddy! He loves me! I am his child just as Jesus is! He gives me exactly the same as Jesus! He is my brother!"
Angrily, little feet stamp the ground in front of the throne room.
I smile. That's the way it is, isn't it?
Why do we have such, such a hard time acknowledging Jesus as (future) King and submitting to God's rule? Why do we have such a hard time submitting to anyone?
Well, let's take a look at how a kingdom works:
There may be a whole host of princes and princesses. A king and .... a crown prince. Someone who will rule the kingdom one day.
He is the firstborn, the chosen one, the "special" one.
In the case of what the Bible teaches us, he is the only begotten son, through whose death we receive the status of children. When we accept him and his atoning sacrifice, we become God's children-through him. Because he loved us so much that he gave his life for us, we may run back to God and cry out, "Abba, dear Father!" not by birthright, but because the only begotten Son, beloved above all things, gave himself for us. In fact, the original word for filiation is something used in the context of adoption. Adopted as children, but not biological children. Beloved, of course, with the right to claim fatherhood, of course, but just not natural-born.
Accordingly, Jesus also reigns over us, for we are added to His future Kingdom. Does God thereby abdicate? No, he remains sovereign, eternally. But his Son is crowned and he takes over all those who are saved through him. Where? On earth, on the day when all will be restored. And we, who serve faithfully, follow him, do what he tells us, he sets up as sovereigns in his new kingdom. He grants fiefdoms, so to speak. Just as a secular king would do, only much more ...just.
I believe there is no greater dichotomy in Christianity than this very one: Jesus is King and we are subject to him, and at the same time he is brother, friend, Savior, and God is our Father.
But it's not a contradiction, not at all. The only problem is that we have had really miserable experiences with dominion, especially when it is in one hand.
Caesar. Napoleon. Hitler. Mussolini. Stalin. Honecker. Putin. For us, domination is associated with bondage. We expect sacrifice, we expect loss. And we therefore do not trust such leadership. Rule and power have always brought only pain and suffering. Being overlooked, class society, enrichment of the rich and impoverishment of the poor. And those who do not play by the rules are condemned, sent into exile or executed. You always have to give something of the little you have. If you are ruled by someone who claims to have all the authority, then you can pack up. It's much better if we all work together.
Isn't it? Yes, it is. That's the reason we rebel against authority. That's the origin of all efforts to relativize Jesus' claim to rule and to put ourselves on a par-the origin of all this-is fear of abuse.
Where does this fear come from, and is there actually a biblical justification for it?
Of course there is!
You know, God warned against appointing human kings back then. His people, Israel, they desperately wanted to be like all the other nations. So they commissioned Samuel to tell God they now wanted a human king to rule them.
God didn't think that was ideal. He warned them that a human king would not be like him, that he would get rich off them, dispose of them as he wished without them being able to do anything about it. He gave in to the request because he himself was deprived of his crown with this request. But he made it clear that human rule would never be his- not just, not gracious, not in equality, but in dominance, in abused authority and "from above." The people- still wanted it and it was granted to them. (cf. 1 Samuel 8). The result was what was announced: Oppression, dependence, being at the mercy.
"Follow me!" says the Son of God, who came to earth to testify Himself and with it the nature and the will of the Father. The surprise: an all-around good, just and loving Son of God reveals Himself to us. One who heals. One who raises up. One who leads the flock, One who brings peace and not condemnation. One who listens, one who makes righteous judgments, one who serves rather than rules and thereby has all authority. One who stands against human domination and shows the way back to the Father. One who reminds us who God really is. And who shows how it works: who rejects every striving for power, who opposes all lies. Who calls to love. To eye level with each other, and acceptance of his authority. And what happens? Those who recognize him are inflamed with love and hope for the coming Kingdom. Those who feel threatened in their own position of power reject him. Persecute him. Kill him, and he allows it, because he will rise again. He returns. And, upon his return to his rightful place, provides all who believe in him with a flat rate to him by pouring out the Holy Spirit, who then gives them authority when they acknowledge his rule. He goes further and says that he will return and repay us according to our faithfulness: He will appoint chiefs who will then rule with him.
Then. When he returns. When they have followed his voice. Not-now.
Can you love a king?
I say, of course. Can't I be a child of a king?! Can't I be the sister of the crown prince?! The only thing I must not do is to deny him his claim to the throne. I must understand that the Crown Prince is privy to our father's business and I am not. And I must understand that my father is the eternal king and creator. I may run to him with everything that I am, and he will have a very personal relationship with me. But he also has a kingdom to rule, and if I endanger the internal or external security with what I do, then that is suboptimal. If I belong to his kingdom, then I am subject to his laws insofar as I identify with them. What my Father has decreed as law applies to me. And what is the law? The 10 commandments of the Kingdom that grant peaceful coexistence.
So that I do not forget them, they are written on my heart. Somehow, memorizing them has never worked. And what do I have to do to understand them? Well, I have to assume that they are good. That they serve to bless me and not to constrict me. And how do I do that? By asking the Father to explain them to me, rather than just demonstrating them outwardly in a dominant way, or using them as an instrument of power over others.
Why is God so blatant in His claim to dominion? Well, too many cooks spoil the broth, and who does not keep to the rules in a kingdom, destroys it from the inside. But since we can't do that with always being just, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit as a teacher, as a comforter, as a connection to him. He shows us how it works. He lets us grow into the king.
You know, this is all perfectly logical.
The only question is: Are we content to be princes and princesses, or do we want to be on Jesus' throne? You have to ask yourself that question. In all this there is no harshness, no condemnation, nothing but love. But it is acceptance that we will never be like Jesus, but have him as friend, brother and ...Lord. He has already shown us that he loves us, and how much. How much do we love him? How much do we trust him?
With these questions, I guide you into this week. And I'll write about ways of healing and arriving in the coming weeks. We don't have to argue at all, you know-because it's both: sonship to God in endless love-and acceptance of leadership, dominion, and love. What stands in between is abuse, suffering and fear.
The good news is that there is no reason for all this fear of this with God.
Be blessed in the -beautiful- name of our both Lord Jesus Christ.
Photo: Wix.com/ Christian Quarter Jerusalem
Song: Fernando Ortega: Lord of Eternity
Bible. Luther translation, here quoted: www.bibleserver.com