Is Christ the King of My Life?
The Feast of Christ is King is upon us. With the end of the Church Year we celebrate the kingship of Jesus before we begin anew with the season of Advent. Celebrating his kingship over heaven and earth reminds us that he truly rules everything. In times like these, when so much in the world seems covered in darkness, this is a great consolation. God is in charge. Jesus Christ is King of the Universe. Nothing is out of his charge. That includes our own lives, even down to the smallest irritations that happen to us. He said that every hair on our heads is numbered. He cares about every aspect of our lives. But this begs the question, do I remember this fact? Do I remember that Jesus is the Lord of my life, even my life? Not just the universe in some large and ephemeral way, but in a personal and intimate way, the King of my heart? How can I submit myself more fully to an awareness of his kingship?
Thy Kingdom Come
First it would behoove us to consider what kind of a king Jesus is since it is from the King himself that we take our cue as to how to revere him. Throughout his ministry, Jesus makes it clear that the kingdom that he is bringing about is not the one that the Jews were necessarily looking out for. At the time, the Jews were expecting and praying for a political messiah – one who would lead them out from under the oppressive thumb of Roman rule and into the glory of a re-established Davidic dynasty. This is not what happened. Instead, when the King came into Jerusalem, he was first greeted with Hosanna and cries of praise, but those shouts of praise quickly turned to shouts of “Crucify him!” When questioned by Pilate as to whether or not he is a king Jesus responds, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight…” (Jn 18:36). His kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom he preached was at hand was the kingdom of heaven.
Rather than looking at his kingdom as a worldly reality, it needs to be seen in the light of the eternal. Now, what we do on this earth on behalf of our King matters. But who did he say would be blessed in the kingdom of heaven? In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, he makes it clear through the Beatitudes that it is those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and those who are reviled for the name of Jesus, these are the ones who will be blessed. Clearly, these are not the measurement of blessedness in earthly standards.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves: am I putting Jesus’s standards of blessedness before the world’s? Or am I more concerned about having X amount of income, certain kinds of material goods, healthy children, playing nice with people I disagree with, keeping my head down in the face of strife? Am I poor in spirit? Do I think I am blessed when I am persecuted for my faith? Am I pure in heart, or is my heart swayed by dangerous cultural influences? Do I show mercy to others, even to those who do not extend the same offer to me? From his throne on the cross, the King with a crown of thorns, beaten and reviled, asked the Father to forgive those who put him to death. That is the measure with which we ought to measure ourselves to help bring the Kingdom of Heaven to those we encounter on earth.
Thy Will Be Done
Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus’s complete obedience to the Father. Where Adam, the first man, disobeyed the Lord’s command, Jesus fulfills the commandments perfectly. Whereas Adam’s disobedience led to death for himself and all the human race, Jesus “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:8-11). Jesus is completely united to the will of the Father, and through this unity to the Father is able to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven through his ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Through his sacrifice of perfect obedience, he is glorified by the Father and when the Kingdom comes in its complete form on the last day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to Christ the King, the King who conquered sin and death not through force or domination, but by trampling death by death. Jesus in his humanity was not immune to how difficult this accomplishment of the Father’s will would be. We see him in the Garden of Gethsemane struggling with the sacrifice he had to make. He prays, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” A prayer of perfect obedience and submission to the perfect will of the Father. May this become our prayer, even in the most trying of circumstances.
Do we, too, have perfect submission to the will of God? Are we at ready attention, like the wise maidens waiting for the bridegroom? Jesus told the disciples to keep watch, to be vigilant, to listen for his voice. Are we ready when he calls, both in the big and small things in life? When we feel him prompting us to act do we ignore this internal prompting, or are we quick to move to the commands of the King?
On Earth as it is in Heaven
In heaven the blessed and the angels are those who spent their lives bringing about his Kingdom on earth and worked on conforming their wills to his own. We are tasked with doing the same. We are tasked with reading the words of our King in the Sacred Scriptures and conforming ourselves to the commandments he set forth that we might be formed to listen to his voice. We are tasked with becoming imitators of Christ the King, that we might make him the true King of our lives on earth and in heaven.