Born in 20th century America, independence beats loudly in my heart. The concept of a king to whom I would submit in total allegiance is difficult for me to grasp. I struggle to understand news reports of blind obedience and terrorist rulers. The conquering of the will of another offends and saddens me. Yet as a Christian, I readily call Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords and consider myself His servant. Surely exploring the concept of Kingship offers great treasure to servants of the King!
Consider a ‘king of the past–perhaps Ivan the Terrible or the Shah of Iran–and picture yourself saying “I don’t care what you say. You are being unreasonable and I will not do what you say.” Or perhaps you are given an instruction and you reply “I had a rough week. Today is my day to sleep in. Take care of that matter yourself.” We read in Esther that entering the presence of the King without an invitation was a crime worthy of death. Looking downcast in front of a king could also offend him enough to order your death. In reality, servants of a King consistently, quickly obey every command whether they want to or not.
Yet in Christianity,Kingship has an amazing twist. Our King humbles himself and allows us free will. It is His passion that those who serve Him choose to do so. The God who made us all, the One who rides the winds and burns with holy fire, the One who gives and sustains our very life submits Himself to us…isn’t that a wild concept?! Only within Christianity does a King become a servant. Living with God as our King takes conscious effort on our behalf because of this humility though. It is easy for us to elevate other things to a position of rule and authority…that which we obey without thought is our king.
Some of the rulers we choose over God sound lovely and spiritual. Peace is one of the unholy idols that has shoved the King off the throne of my heart. Choosing peace over the will of God, I have ignored my King. Sometimes a far lesser king slips into the King’s place…comfort, pleasure, pride and ‘my way’ are nasty rulers commonly served. Every ruler but the King becomes increasingly demanding. Idols begin by making us feel good–but gradually insist on blind obedience regardless of our desire. Idols take on many forms and morph over the years. Only the Holy Spirit can help us discern the truth and reject the excuses my heart creates.
Recently I heard a story that helps me consciously choose to keep the King on the throne of my heart. A couple moved into a home with a dove nest in the corner of their front porch. They loved the gentle birds and enjoyed the cooing. They quickly realized that a slammed door or a raised voice sent the doves away. They had a choice: adjust to the nature of the dove–or lose their presence.
We have the same choice; the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The natural characteristics of the dove–gentle, quietness and loving concern–must be of highest value to me in my day-to-day life. Treasuring the sweetness of the presence of God above every other earthly concern keeps the King in place. What joy there is when the rightful King rules!