Have you ever been in a situation where you thought, “Who died and made you boss over me?” I was in a meeting, a few months ago, with our team of core pastors. Together we oversee the spiritual leadership and direction of our church. As the founding and lead pastor there is deference given to me. In a sense, I am first among equals. During the meeting one of my friends brought to my attention that I had again interrupted another pastor, and in effect silenced his idea before he had a chance to fully share the idea. Then it happened. The thought entered my mind, “Who died and made you boss over me?” And just as quickly the answer, “Jesus.” God has ordained that mankind is to be under spiritual authority. Our actions and attitudes reveal whether or not we are. Here are three key questions to consider whether Christ is truly King in your life?
Will you repent?
When confronted by my friend(s) there were several reactions that would reveal my attitude towards Christ’s authority. I can attempt to justify by suggesting that I have greater knowledge or expertise on the matter so it is justified to stop a discussion on an idea that I deem unworthy. I can defend myself by suggesting we have a busy meeting agenda and we need to move the discussion along. In effect denying any wrongdoing. I can apologize and acknowledge remorse at my behavior. Or I can reflect, receive correction, and truly repent. Repentance requires me to recognize my sin of pride in thinking that I am smarter or right. Acknowledging my wrong to Christ, and also confessing to those who I’ve offended. Therefore, I must choose to align my attitude and behavior to reflect that I am under God’s authority, and therefore under authority of spiritual leaders in my life. There is a chasm between “sorry” and repentance. Repentance is dynamic, life transforming, and evident by the fruit it yields.
When I repented, I rejoiced. It encouraged me that Christ was my King. And I believe that the fruit of repentance is sweet. I want Him to be King in my life.
Will you submit?
John the Baptist confronted King Herod about his sin and called him to repent [Matt. 14:1-12]. Herod imprisoned John because he repeatedly rebuked Herod’s adultery. Herod divorced his wife to marry his half-brother’s wife. To please his new wife, Herod imprisoned John. Herod repeatedly visited John in prison, and was urged to repent [Mk. 6:20], but refused. Pride and refusal to repent of sin reveal our desire to be king rather than submit to the King of kings. At Herod’s birthday feast, Herod’s stepdaughter was summoned to dance – probably a sensual dance. A royal princess would be shamed as a lowly dancing girl so Herod promised her whatever she wanted if she danced. Herodias tells her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herodias had rebelled against God’s authority and morality, and in effect murdered John. Herod was sorry (i.e. distressed or grieved) but did not want to lose face in front of his guests. Thus Herod granted the request, and John was beheaded.
Herod’s actions reveal his attitude. Although he was a king, He was not Sovereign. There was a greater king, and it wasn’t simply the Emperor in Rome. There is One who is King of kings. Herod apparently struggled with John’s call to repent, because the king kept returning to John. But when the pressure intensified at the birthday feast Herod clearly revealed that he would not submit to Christ’s authority.
When the pressure intensifies, will I submit and remain under Christ’s authority? Imagine playing volleyball in a lake or swimming pool. You can easily hold the volleyball at the surface of the water, but as the volleyball is submerged deeper the pressure intensifies. The ball tends to pop-up to the surface rather than remain submitted to the authority of your hand. Similarly, when there is nominal pressure in the Christian life it is relatively easy to remain under Christ’s authority. When the pressure intensifies so that there is a conflict between my authority and Christ’s then you discover whether you are truly submitted.
In the context of the core pastors at our church, I experienced this pressure. As we were collectively seeking direction from Christ for our church, the vision moved towards a vision that may not have been my first choice. Nevertheless, I could see that the vision honored God and was likely from God. In that dynamic, I could choose to trust that God was speaking to and through the other members of the team and submit. Or in response to the pressure of a long-term vision, seek to impose my will.
When I submitted to Christ’s authority in the context of our core team it was a defining moment for our team. And it also encouraged me that I was truly submitted to Christ as my King in the midst of the pressure. It is in the tests of pressure that reveal our desired king.
Will you honor?
There are many realms or spheres of life that reveal whether Jesus is truly King. I am called to honor my King in every realm. I need to determine whether I’m honoring Christ not only in my calling, but is He King in the personal, marriage, family, community, and career realms? For example, if my wife Karen was to assert, “Who died and made you the boss over me?” I would quickly reply, “Jesus.” Although there is some theological truth in that answer, it doesn’t go deep enough. I need to dig deeper. When Christ is King in my life, I choose to love my wife as Christ loves the church. Presumably, if I love Karen as Christ does then she would not chafe at my leading.
Therefore, whenever my attitudes or actions are called into question, in any realm of life, I need to humbly consider whether I need to repent and submit in order to honor Christ. Whenever, I recognize my wrongs and submit to Christ as my King, I’m comforted knowing that I’m the subject of the King of kings and Lord of lords [Rev. 19:16]. Is He your King?