Today is Christ the King Sunday! It’s the day we lift Christ up as our Lord and Savior, our highest good and ultimate goal. But just what do we mean when we say Christ is the “King?” What does the word “King” mean to you?
“Ole’ King Cole Was a Merrie Old Soul,” Nat King Cole, Martin Luther King, Billie Jean King, the King of Pop, Elvis, the King of Rock & Roll, the King of Soul, King Creole, King Midas, the King of Chorales, the King of Queens, A man is king of his own castle, “Lead On, O King Eternal,” The King of Love my Shepherd Is.”
When we think of a king, we thing of someone who is on top of the world, or at least a country, someone with final say and authority. Usually this person is someone of great power or charisma, a person who plays the political cards just right, in order to keep atop the popularity wave. Or, in the case of a cruel and forceful king, we see a ruler who cares little for other people or their opinions, and acts only to ensure their own well being, even to the point of oppressing their subjects.
But Jesus was a different kind of king. He didn’t rule with an iron fist, or cater to the whims of popularity. He didn’t wield control over nations or defeat massive empires. In fact, his kingdom was spread individual by individual, one person at a time. One leper out of ten who acknowledged the giver of the gift of healing, a widow’s son raised to life, a woman freed from hemorrhaging, little children grasped in the Savior’s loving embrace.
So it is with us. Christ has touched our lives, and we have come to know Christ as our king. We have experienced God’s love, and know the joys that come from following Jesus, our Savior and our King. So we proclaim, “Christ is the king!”
But I ask you, “So What?” What does that mean for our lives when we leave this place of worship? What does it matter on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday that Christ is the King? It’s all well and good for us to proclaim Christ is king when we’re here at church, among the ranks of the faithful, but what happens when we dare to proclaim “Christ is the King” in the company of people who may not agree? What happens when we dare to proclaim “Christ is the King” in the company of people who may not have ever heard about Christ our king, or may not have experienced Christ Jesus in the same way we have? People on the outside of Christianity may say that Christ has little or nothing to do with their lives, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. Christ wants to be king of their lives just as much, if not more so, than he wants to be king of our lives. Recall the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus said to the disciples, “What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.” (Matthew 18:12-14) This just doesn’t make sense to us. Let’s say I found 100 one dollar bills sitting outside on the steps on a windy day. If one blew away, do you think I’d leave the other 99 sitting there so I could track down the last one? No way! I’d grab up the stack as fast as I could, thankful that more didn’t blow away. But not God. For God, the one that is lost becomes more important that the 99 that aren’t lost. This is the nature of Christ who we call King today. Jesus was willing to give of himself, even sacrificing his own life, that not one would be lost. What are we willing to sacrifice, so that not even one will be lost?
We live in a world filled with lost souls, and perhaps the most frightening thing is that many of these people don’t know that they’re lost. Many people, when questioned, would tell you that they believe in “a God,” but are entirely too busy to be burdened if you were to ask them to come to church with you. “Oh, I belong to X- church down the way,” they would tell you, but they couldn’t tell you the last time they actually went to church. These are the people who are Christian, insofar as it suits them. If it will help me, sure I’ll let the church claim me on their annual report. These are the people that Jesus would call rocky ground: “…when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.” (Mark 4:16-17) “Christianity is a private thing, between me and God” they might be known to say. One can only guess as to the depth of their faith, and pray that God would move in their hearts and lives.
So what would we say to a person like this, who says, “Christ is the king. So What?” Let me ask you a question: is it harder to share your faith with someone you know, or with a complete stranger? Most people answer that it’s harder to share their faith with their friends, because it might be a touchy subject. “After all, I don’t want to make someone I care about uncomfortable. They might think I’m a weirdo or something.” It’s so much easier to put the bushel basket over our light of faith than to let the light of Christ shine on the lamp stand on our life. It’s easier to pretend that we didn’t hear the off-color joke, instead of share how uncomfortable it made us. It’s easier to remain silent about our faith than feel like other people scrutinizing our life, trying to find fault with the Christian, or feeling like they can’t talk to us without getting a lecture in morality. It’s easier to just skip church when company’s in town, instead of letting them know that worshipping God is important to us, and actually invite them to be your guest at Church Sunday morning. Are we embarrassed about claiming the God who loved us with an everlasting love?
Christ gave his life so that we may never be separated from God again. Jesus rose from the grave so that not even death can separate us from God’s love. Through our baptism, we are put to death with Christ, so that we don’t need to be concerned with the trappings of this world, or what other people will think of us if they find out how much Jesus means to us. We don’t need to worry about our lives, because God will take care of us. And besides, we’re dead already! Paul tells us, “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2: 19-20) Our life is not our own, because Jesus lives in us. When Christ is king of our lives, we don’t need to worry. Since God is busy providing for our needs, we are free to be busy living for others, free to invite others to meet the God who meets us in Word and Sacrament.
So we proclaim, “Christ is King!” What does that look like in your life? A few years back, we highlighted the seven faith practices of the church, seven areas of our lives where our faith works to reveal God’s light. Do you remember what they are? You may still have them stuck to your refrigerator, hiding behind a grocery list.
Worship: being an active part of the worshipping community is one way we exercise and strengthen our faith, witnessing to God’s power in our lives.
Study: as we seek to study God’s Word for our lives, we grow into God’s own likeness.
Pray: When we seek to increase our time spent in prayer, we grow our communication skills in talking to God and listening for God’s voice in our lives.
Serve: When we give of ourselves for the sake of our neighbor in need, we see Christ in those we serve, and we are blessed in our serving.
Give: we give of our resources, not so that the church can cover its expenses, but so that we are reminded that all that we have is a gift from our loving God.
Encourage: We are Christ’s hands and feet in this world when we support and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow members of the body of Christ.
Invite: Just as we have been invited to experience God’s life-changing power, we too invite other to “Come and see” the God who meets us in Word and Sacrament. Our job is to invite, and trust that the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
So as we celebrate this Christ the King Sunday, the invitation to you is to answer the question, “So what?” How is Christ king in your life? How is your life different because God has laid claim on your life? How can you improve your relationship with King Jesus, striving to love him with all your heart and soul and mind and strength?
As you seek to answer these questions today and every day, the peace of God, which surpasses al understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds, in Christ Jesus. Amen.