Epiphany Sunday was celebrated yesterday. Epiphany is always set on January 6th to conclude the 12 days of Christmas. Epiphany is celebrated two-fold: first as the wise men arriving to celebrate and worship the Christchild. It’s also the day that remembers Jesus’ baptism (and the invitation for believers to recall their own).
Yesterday, I spoke about the importance of recognizing Christ as King – the wise men acknowledged and sought him as such, and his baptism serves as an anointing of him, as well. Typically when we proclaim “Christ as King” in today’s church, we do so in recognition of his power. And while that’s true, he does have that. We often make the mistake of attributing His power to the likeness of Rome, Assyria, Canaan, Egypt, or even the United States. It’s a power that uses force, and coercion – this is not how Christ (or God reigns).
If Christ is King, kings must have a kingdom. A kingdom has 5 important attributes. A kingdom has a:
- Ruler – a king. God desired to rule as king over his people from creation until God consented to the people of Israel’s desire for a human king in 1 Samuel 8. Most of the kings of man were unfaithful to God and led the people into false religions, idolatry, greed, and more until the kingdoms fell and the people were forced into to exile. Christ is the return of God placing his rule over his people, of those who choose to seek him and his kingdom ways.
- Reign – a rule of character or principle that guides the kingdom. In the U.S. freedom and happiness are our reigning guides. God’s kingdom seeks shalom – goodness for others and for all.
- Ruled – the people of God. In the Old Testament it was the Israelites, in the New Testament it is the church. Romans 9 gives a short explanation of these relationships.
- Rule – the Law that guides the land. These laws help the kingdom to achieve the reign. In the Old Testament, it was the 10 Commandments. The teachings of the Sermon the Mount in the Gospels, and for the church, it is those and life in the Spirit that guides, directs, and teaches us how to live the Way, Truth, and the Life of Christ the king.
- Realm – the land or domain that the kingdom exists. A kingdom needs a location. The Israelites were given the Promise Land. In the New Testament, King Jesus tells us the kingdom is within your grasp (at hand) – it exists where ever we are present and abiding in the reign of the King.
As we begin 2018, I would invite you to take time to remember your baptism. What led up to it, who was influential in your decision, what did it mean for you in your life, faith, and beyond?
In addition, as you see Christ as King, consider these questions:
- Who or what competes for your allegiances?
- What reigns over you?
- With whom do you build and spend time within community that supports and pushes you deeper into Christ’s kingdom?
- What “laws” govern your life? Is it morality, redemption, self-preservation, reputation, wealth?
- Where do you embody the kingdom?
May you be filled with epiphanies of God’s kingdom that baptize (immerse) you in the elements of Christ’s kingdom!
Go with God