Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Historical allusions in sermons and songs never fail to pique my interest. ‘You are my King’1with its reference to a loving, self-sacrificing ruler is no exception. That image is hard to comprehend in most societies; rulers – past and present – tending to take advantage of their positions of power, lording it over their subjects rather than using their influence to insure justice and promoting the common good of the people they are sworn to uphold and protect. (See Matthew 20:25-28 Even the good one’s – such as David – falling prey at times to the allurements of unlimited power and privilege. (See 2Sam. 11 & 12)
Rulers earning their people’s trust and love, and consequently their obedience, do so by being honorable and trustworthy; reigning for the people as opposed to ruling over them, promoting opportunities for prosperity for the entire realm rather than seeking personal profit resulting from the labor of their subjects; establishing law and order that benefits everyone instead of consolidating power in the hands of a privileged few. Our Bible identifies just such a King, Jesus Christ – the King of kings and Lord of lords. ( 1 Timothy 6:15) He who is willing to be our refuge, eager to come to our rescue and able to be an ever-present source of strength and help in times of trouble. ( Psalm 46:1)
Asked when his kingdom would come and how it would be recognized, Jesus replied that it would not be through the manipulation of carefully observed rules and rituals, but would be recognized as it emanated from within the lives of true believers; much as the ideals that make America unique are not conferred on us by political leaders but find expression through the American people in response to those ideals. ( Luke 17:20,21) His Kingdom recognized and accessed by His Spirit ( John 3:5) and given substance in the world as we follow his example in word and deed. ( John 13:15)
Declaring, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36; Jesus alluded to the spiritual aspects of his realm, setting a demarcation line between his expectations and the world-view of non-believers, based in the lustful cravings and boasting of sinful man. ( 1 John 2:15-17) He admitted however that, “You are right in saying I am a King.” Although “…my Kingdom is from another place.” John 18:37 Of course, as a result of this admission and his challenge of the established religious/political order, he was questioned, reviled, brutalized and executed; of which he had hinted before-hand to his disciples. ( Mark 10:33,34) Not wanting them to be caught unaware he warned them to expect the same for themselves ( John 15:10); helping them find strength and solace in the assurance that, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 For trouble, hardship, persecution, etc. can never separate us from God’s love. Neither can supernatural powers come between us and our Savior. The busyness of life at times hindering our full understanding and compliance to his will but a studious observance of his way can nullify even death, turning it into the means by which we enter into his presence. ( Romans 8:35) God promising, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Prompting us to proclaim, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:5,6 (See also John 14:1)
We in turn are expected to magnify our King’s loving concern, gaining the respect of our brethren and the appreciation of the world by donning the mantle of servant-hood. “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,…” Matthew 20:28 Doing so, “…wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” Ephesians 6:7 Having been prepared for works of service through God’s word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. ( Ephesians 4:12)
This will not be easy as it runs counter to our willful nature. Nor will we always be understood or appreciated by those we attempt to enlighten and aid. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12 But compassion and comfort can be found in the Lord of mercy, and not just for ourselves; but “…so that we can (also) comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received…” 2 Corinthians 1:3,4As a result we should, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep (our) spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11
A zeal and fervor that causes us to question, Amazing love, how can it be? That you, my King, would die for me. And compels us to declare, Amazing love, I know its true, it’s my joy to honor you… in all I do, I honor you! 1
Bowing or kneeling before royalty was the primary mode of expressing reverence; this too is referenced in scripture. “…at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,…” Philippians 2:10 Either in fearful acknowledgment of His superiority or in awe-filled, love-inspired obeisance; everyone will one day recognize and declare Jesus for who He is. “…the Lord delight(ing) in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:1 (See also Luke 12:5)
Men kneeled before their king in fear of a power they didn’t fully understand; fearing who he was, what he had done, what he could do to them. Today, we needn’t kneel before our King in that way because of the love he has expressed for us – but in awe, with a remnant of fear; again for who he is, what he has accomplished that we still don’t fully comprehend, for his ability to destroy yet his desire to create, redeem and sustain. As God himself declared, “I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.” Jeremiah 32:10 Fear of disappointing God instilling wisdom ( Psalm 111:10) and knowledge ( Proverbs 1:7); teaching us the difference between the world’s way and God’s will ( Proverbs 9:10); inducing humility and bestowing honor ( Proverbs 15:33); leading to life lived in contentment and peace. ( Proverbs 19:23)
But isn’t that contradictory? John declared that, “…perfect love drives out fear,…” 1 John 4:18; even as Paul admonished us to, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling….” Philippians 2:12 There is no contradiction, however, when we understand the essence of the being we worship in fear/awe, causing us to refrain from disappointing the one who reserves His power for our benefit ( John 3:16,17); yet who can – and does – wield that power in punishing judgment. ( Acts 17:31 & Acts 5:1-11) The, “…one lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy,…” James 4:12
During times of testing and trouble, when like foot-soldiers of old we are hard pressed on every side; God can seem to be nowhere in sight and unable to answer our call for help – when in reality he is close by, allowing us to expend energy in battle and learning what we are capable of under pressure, testing our resolve against others force of will, developing perseverance, patience, character, faithfulness and hope. ( Romans 5:3,4) It is during these times then that our Captain-General comes charging in with the reserve forces from strategically held high ground, renewing our strength and resolve, turning us from the brink of defeat and surrender, leading us in a renewed charge to victory. Such a king is our God! (See Revelation 19:11-16)
1“You Are My King” – Billy Foote, Worshiptogether.com Songs
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Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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