Luke 1:31-33 – You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. (NIV)
The extravagance of British royalty fascinates me. Yet sometimes, I wonder, Why bother? This pageantry is just a remnant of the past. It's not the real thing; monarchs no longer rule. Yet royal traditions can preserve values like beauty, art, music, and orderliness — which help restrain the trendiness of culture. Royal traditions give society a sense of identity and stability — besides some good news in a troubled world. That's a lot of benefit, even though the royals are just figureheads.
That's also true for Christianity. Even if Christ has been "demoted" to merely a figurehead, we can certainly enjoy the traditions and values passed down. However, that's living off the interest on capital deposited in the past — and that's running out. That's sinking us into spiritual and social bankruptcy, causing many to suffer from lack of hope, meaning, and purpose. Neither royal pageantry nor religious tradition has the power to heal that condition, because they can't change people on the inside. We need Christ, not merely as a figurehead, but as the real thing:
Isaiah 9:7 – Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (NIV)
For us who are shaped in a democracy, a ruler is foreign to our instincts. We expect to have a voice in governing affairs. We assume the right to free choice. Even our unconscious thoughts flow in this vein: "I want to …" I'll do … " "I can have …" We may assume the right to control others. We may also assume the right to make Christ a figurehead in our lives. Yet without Him as our governing authority through His Spirit, we'll have little power to effectively influence our world, as we are called to do.
So, we ask ourselves, Who is Christ in my life: a figurehead, or the real thing? Am I leaning on old remnants, or is He truly enthroned in my life, governing and guiding with the power of His authority?
Consider how Jesus described Himself as "the real thing", in other words, as a truly ruling monarch. He used a variety of parables to describe His kingdom reign, and words like these:
- My kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36a NIV)
- No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. (John 3:3b NIV)
- But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (Luke 12:31 NIV)
- Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 NIV)
Prayer: O Lord, give us a passion for Your rule in our lives and in our world, that together we may we enjoy Your kingdom treasures: hope, peace, joy, love, and all that satisfies our every need. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "The First Nowell" (Lyrics)