“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him, all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15-17, NRSVue)
The “Reign of Christ” Sunday is this week, the last Sunday in the Christian year. Sunday, November 27th, is the first Sunday in Advent and is the beginning of the new church year, but we end the old year remembering Jesus Christ as King. Jesus redefined kingship when he refused the overt power and authority characteristic of the rule of most kings. He resisted using retaliation, violence, and coercion, seeking to rule in our hearts through love. This approach makes him no less a king, but it makes him unique among all those who seek to rule over our hearts. Jesus establishes his authority through attraction, not domination, and his love and grace draw us into a relationship with him.
Jesus chose this form of leadership and lordship because he wanted us to come to him as an act of free will, not out of fear. Indeed, we must respect him (the appropriate translation of the word in the King James Version frequently translated as “fear” in relationship to God) and worship his holiness, but not as some distant, angry deity who “needs” our worship and praise. Jesus Christ is not insecure, requiring our worship to appease or satisfy his ego like the Greek and Roman gods of old. Jesus desires that we worship him because worship transforms us! He wants his beauty and righteousness to draw us into a deep and meaningful relationship with him that changes our lives for the better.
Jesus exhibits another unique trait among kings. He invites us to follow him. He doesn’t send us out into the world; he leads us out into the world. Jesus goes before us, walking with us and leading the way. His primary commandment as King is “follow me.” Wherever he goes, we follow in his footsteps.
As a child, I worked on many projects with my father. We built decks, fixed cars, made furniture, and repaired household items. I loved working with my father, especially when he stood by me and guided me in each step of our project. Occasionally, if my dad were busy and needed to stay with the project he was working on, he would send me to take care of another project—usually something small and simple. I would get started, but without his guiding voice, I would second-guess myself, and before I knew it, I was confused about what to do next. At that point, I had to go back and ask him, and he patiently walked me through the process of completing the job. I eventually grew in my ability to handle any job independently, but I always felt better when he was with me.
Imagine how Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, loves us enough to walk with us every step of our lives. He’s not caught up in his title; he’s caught up in his love for us as his beloved children. We are the children of a King. And the King is always willing to show us the way—his way! Why would we choose to follow any other king?
I hope to see you on Sunday as Mak Knowlden, our Director of Youth Ministry, brings a message of joy and hope. Don’t forget to bring a friend. — Senior Pastor Dale Cohen