Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God…
…everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. (1st John 5:1a, 4a)
Spending six weeks flat on my back in bed six+ hours a day in a CPM, rehabbing from knee surgery is proving to be a blessing in myriad ways, not least that it’s allowed me to slow down and be more contemplative and deliberately prayerful as I read scripture on my new Kindle, (which is a seriously cool vehicle for doing that, not least because many translations are free, and the note-taking function is great. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.)
As I’ve done that, the Lord has been generous to pour out new levels and layers of insight with regard to passages so familiar that I have (all too often) taken them in with one great big mental-visual gulp, not pausing to reflect on the profundity of some of the simplest statements.
How often do we take a passage like the one above, and boil the Christian faith down to the simplistic notion of “believing in” Jesus, as if mere yes/no assent to an unarguable historical fact were all that the Creator of the Universe asks of us, his creation? How often do we fail to reflect on what that passage really means?
“…believes that Jesus is the Christ” means that we believe he is the anointed, and that means that we believe that he is the king… of Creation. (Anointing was associated with kings in ancient Israel.)
What a lot of casual, cultural Christians do with a passage like that, in their minds (and I was one of them) is to render it almost without meaning at all, as if ‘Christ’ were his last name. Yes, I believe Sally “is” Jones. That’s her name. Yes, I believe Fred “is” Smith. That’s what it says on his driver’s license. So what?
One of our handicaps, in a nation which roundly rejected a king (an event we will celebrate next week) is that we no longer have any gut sense of what a king is or does — the power he wields, the respect he deserves, his impact and import of his words. Sure, we elevate various folks into king-like positions (presidents, business leaders, pop celebrities and whatnot) but those are cheap substitutes. We know that even the great ones are fleeting. I can’t speak to nations like England which retain some form of pseudo-emasculated monarchy but even there (I am told) the sense of what a king is has faded dramatically in just a few generations.
What if we really believed, in the way we went about our day, that Jesus is THE king? That he has absolute power and authority over everything — and I really mean everything? What would that look like? Would it even look all that ‘religious’ anymore in the sense of ‘religion’ being distinct from the rest of life? I don’t think it would.
Think about this as well…
What if the widespread lack of belief in and respect for the kingly office of that person called Jesus were not evidence of his lack of credibility or power (or in some peoples’ minds, his lack of existence) but a sign of a forbearance (a tremendous patience) that would absolutely stagger us if we were to even try and wrap our minds around it. What if we believed he was really king and we had an opportunity to vote for him and contribute to his ‘campaign’ (not that he’d need one) and, by so doing, receive an engraved, hand-delivered invitation to attend his coronation party or make a choice to join a rebellion which we knew in advance was going to be crushed to dust and those were our only two choices? What if we had a lifetime to make that decision?