Believe in the Kingdom
Gospel Reading for Christ the King Sunday (Year C)
"God is on the throne." I heard that refrain repeatedly in the lead up to and aftermath of the Election. Don't worry, God is on the throne. But there is a disturbing distance to that image, isn't there? Perhaps that's just me.
When things fall apart, the God on the throne seems like the God faraway. When children die, when war breaks out, when hatred devours, God is on the throne? The image of this pristine, heavenly king doesn't seem to connect with a world that needs so much help. I want God to get God's anthropomorphic hands dirty.
The image leaves something wanting. My brilliant sister Shari tackled this issue of God's sovereignty in a recent blog post:
Here’s what God’s control means to me. It means that he is Lord. He is better and above anything and anyone else. And I should obey him whole-heartedly. I should pursue love, justice, compassion, and kindness because of God. I can’t ignore brokenness, because God doesn’t ignore brokenness.
God doesn't ignore brokenness. That is exactly where the gospel passage for Christ the King Sunday finds Jesus. He is on the cross. It is God vulnerable. It is God in the place where humanity is most shattered. The crowd cries out that he save himself, but he does not. Jesus suffers for a crime he did not commit and he comforts a dying criminal hanging by his side. This is the picture of Christ as King we have today: God in the brokenness.
In his song "Blessings," Chance the Rapper declares that "don't believe in kings, believe in the Kingdom." As Christians, we don't believe in the way the rulers of this world work. We don't believe in power by force or might. We believe in sacrifice and love, justice and goodness. We believe in looking out for the vulnerable. We believe in the King who willingly went to our most broken places.
To believe in the Kingdom is to live in the ways of that Kingdom. It means to follow Jesus in what he did. Jesus was not just God on the throne. Jesus was God with us. The God who is better and above anything or anyone else, came down to us. So his followers must be with those around us. Compassion, love, goodness, justice, and kindness are the banners we carry. They are the flags of our King and our Kingdom.