Our King. Past, Present and Future
In 1969, the comedian Woody Allen hosted a variety TV special on CBS. The network allowed him to do whatever he wanted for an hour, and they would broadcast it to America. The show was a variety show that was common for the era. Allen did a little standup. There were a couple of comedy sketches. There was a live musical performance by the Fifth Dimension. Yet in the middle of all of this, Allen arranged to interview the world famous evangelist, Billy Graham.
If you watch the interview on You Tube, you will see both men very engaged in the conversation. Reverend Graham was winsome and approachable. Allen seemed charmed, while maintaining his instantly recognizable cynicism and fresh modern style. The interview lasted about 10 minutes, and prompted by audience questions, both men engaged with each other. The interview is fascinating. Allen is attracted and wary at the same time. Graham never waters down his message, but delivers it in a masterfully appealing way, the two men circling each other.
For me, the most interesting moment is when in breaking away from an audience question, Allen askes Graham, “Do you remember the worst sin you ever committed?”. Graham replies that there is no worse sin. All sin is the same in the eye of God, although he supposed that idolatry is perhaps a worse sin — that breaking the first commandment was the worst. “Oh really?” Allen asked, “doesn’t seem to you like an egomaniacal position?”
The God-centeredness of God is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for believers and non-believers alike. We are all very comfortable with Christ as friend, Christ as shepherd, and even Christ as our substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. But the image of Christ most widely found in the Old Testament, is the image of Christ as King. As the eternal heir of David. Being a king that we are commanded to worship above all things seems very self-centered. Egomaniacal even.
This is because while we often are aware of the ways we break the other nine commandments, we miss the fact that the sin we often overlook is our pride. Pride is the power that makes ourselves, our goals and our pleasures more important to us than God is to us. This sin is poisonous to our joy in Christ, and keeps many from an abundant life with the Lord. We may think we are humble in thought, word, and deed, but don’t consider the fact that we have yet to truly make God our King.
Kingship is more than thrones and crowns. Kingship is the practical leadership during the stresses of life. It means trusting our king when we are in uncharted territory. When delivered, we are grateful, and that gratitude is worship. Yet, our memories are cloudy. Before long, those delivered forget that it was God who delivered them. We become comfortable. We become interested in our personal diversions. This is why throughout the Old Testament, God reminds the Jews over and over again of what he did for them. Bringing them out of Egypt. Giving them a law. Giving them a land. When they turned to worshiping the gods of other countries, even sacrificing their children to these foreign gods, the Lord in his justice punishes them in exile in Babylon, and at the same time, prepares the next chapter by telling them that He is sending a redeemer.
As we prepare our hearts in Advent, consider the fact that it is more than the arrival of a meek and mild child. It is the arrival of our king. A king promised to bring justice and righteousness 4,000 years ago. A leader who will make us acceptable, despite our sin. A ruler who will continue to bless us in a way that evokes our adoration. It is not egomaniacal. It is right because He offers us what is best in the universe: Himself. The ultimate dynamic creative power. Perfect justice. Perfect holiness. This perfection should keep us on our knees this Advent, as we consider all He has done, is doing, and will surely accomplish in the future.