Monday, December 23, 2013

He Is The King With No Bling

Muslim Jihadists in Indonesia
Our Christmas series at Emmanuel is entitled Celebrating the King and is based upon the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate just days before Christ's crucifixion (John 18:33-38). On trial in Jerusalem before the Roman governor Pilate, Jesus makes five startling statements in response to Pilate's question, "So you are a King?"

1). "You say correctly that I am King" - 2). "For this reason (to be King) I was born" -  3). "For this (to be King) I have come into the world" -  4). "I have come to testify of the truth (that I am King)" -  5). "Everyone who is of the truth (in my Kingdom) hears My voice." All five of these statements of Jesus are found in John 18:37.

I would have loved to have seen Pilate's facial expressions as Jesus confirmed He was born to be King.  Jesus was like no other king Pilate had ever met. Shackled, dressed as a pauper, hated by His own people (the Jews), Jesus didn't look like a king. That's why Jesus said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world." That statement doesn't mean the Kingdom of Christ has nothing to do with this world. On the contrary, Jesus came to be King of our lives, and His reign affects everything about us in this world. When Jesus said to Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world" He was clarifying for the quizzical Roman governor that, "My Kingdom is not like any kingdom of this world." Jesus Kingdom is different than the kingdoms of this world because Jesus is far different than any other king this world has ever seen. Jesus told his followers,  "The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). When you come to faith in Christ, the Creator of the universe sets up His reign in your life. His Kingdom is different from earthly kingdoms in at least three primary ways.

(A). The world focuses on riches, but Christ focuses on relationships.  Peter said to the lame man: “Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give to you…” (Acts 3:6). Peter had the power of the Spirit of Christ living within him. Peter noticed the lame, the lost and the left behind!     Lee Grady, former editor of Charisma Magazine, wrote a piece after the death of Paul Crouch entitled Its Time to Reboot Christian Television. In it he writes,
“Prosperity preaching should not be allowed. It dishonors God and drags Christianity
down to a scam.”
Jesus was born in a stable and had “no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). His family was not prestigious. His hometown of Nazareth was not only not a royal city, it was so unimportant that it was said, “What good can come from Nazareth?” When Jesus was called “this man from Nazareth” it was with a sneer and heavy sarcasm. He was a King with no bling. Yet, He is the Creator God come to reign in the hearts of sinners in need of redemption.

“Veiled in flesh… (Man), The Godhead see… (God), Hail, the incarnate … (Man)… Deity! … (God).”

(B). The world focuses on pleasure, but Christ focuses on purpose. It truly is a purpose driven Kingdom. Every day you wake up you and I ought to ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of the King for me today?” It could be as simple as spending quality time with you kids. It could be making right a wrong done by you. Listening to the King and filling your life with purpose will always ultimately trump any pursuit of temporal pleasure, because...

(C). The world’s ways fail to satisfy, but Christ’s Way brings lasting satisfaction. Ironically, when you live as an ambassador for the King, you wind up finding the very thing the world seeks - genuine satisfaction. Solomon writes that the ways of the world lead to vanity (Ecclesiastes), but God’s reign in one's heart leads to real joy.
This past Sunday, as we focused on the importance of making Christ the King of one's life, I used illustrations that were applicable to evangelical Christians in the American south. "Ladies, when you go shopping, ask the King whether or not you should spend more than what you've budgeted. Gentlemen, when you have a business meeting and must discipline an employee, listen to the King and His wisdom as you represent Him at the office before men. Kids, every day you live, your thoughts ought to be on your King - for you are an ambassador of His at school, on the ball field, and among your circle of friends."
The applications of the principle of Christ's Kingship over us are fine, right? Well, maybe. Except that the applications were cultural, for me and for the people among whom I live. God was about to teach me that we Americans live in a cultural bubble.
After the message on the Kingship of Christ, I interviewed a new friend from Indonesia. Paulos, his lovely wife and their three children are in Enid for Christmas. Fifteen years ago Paulos and his wife felt led to start a Bible school on an island in Indonesia. One day he received a frantic call that 3,000 jihadists were marching toward his city to kill Christians. He fled with his family in the jungle, but over 1,000 people died who couldn't escape. While in the jungle he and his wife became separated from their four-year-old daughter. The separation was in its fourth hour when Paulos began praying to His King to help him find his daughter. As he walked and prayed on the jungle path, eyes closed, he fell down a steep bank into a river below. When he stood up he saw his daughter in the shallow portion of the river bank, bloodied and crying. As bombs exploded around them and the staccato of machine guns could be heard in the distance, Paulos carried his daughter up the river bank thanking Christ for her rescue.
From that day until now, Paulos has worked with HCJB radio to build radio stations on the thousands of islands that form Indonesia. On many of these islands, Paulos' stations are the only means of communication and the Indonesians hear the gospel of Jesus Christ from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight. Last August, going to the island where his 44th radio station had been built, 7,000 people showed up at a Christian rally announced via the station. 1,200 came to faith in Christ that day. Paulos shared with us that in the most recent Al Qaeda newsletter he is on the "hit list." The jihadists want Paulos dead.
I had this very weird feeling after preaching the message and then listening to Paulos that we Christians in America lack some perspective. When we consider the removal of Duck Dynasty from A&E a form of persecution we show we have little understanding of the true Kingdom. We American Christians cherish our personal comforts, our southern riches, and our enjoyable entertainments.  Our King, however, seems not as interested in these comfortable things as we are. We seem to have forgotten that our King rules with no bling.
What He does have is the power to save the lost, the supernatural ability to restore broken relationships, and the means necessary to turn cold, dead spiritual hearts into living souls that throb with real joy, independent of circumstances. I am grateful this Christmas that Christ came to be King of my life and that His Kingdom is nothing like the kingdoms of this world. May He give me the grace to grow in my perspective of what that really means.


Victorious said...

We do indeed live in a cultural bubble. I cannot imagine encountering situations like Paulos did. And neither can I imagine the conditions I read about in both the old and new testaments; ie. stoning, crucifixion, imprisonment, etc. But as Corrie ten Boom's father told her when she said she was afraid she'd not be strong enough to be a martyr for Christ, "Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need—just in time…”

I found it a bit strange to use the " "Ladies, when you go shopping, ask the King whether or not you should spend more" as an example of making Jesus King in your life. I'm of the belief that Jesus doesn't really care whether I eat tuna fish or peanut butter for lunch as He has given me the ability to make a wide variety of daily decisions for myself. We should tell Him you're ready, willing, and able to be of service on any given day in any way He sees fit.

I can't fully relate to the persecutions we hear about in other countries, but trust that should we have to encounter such horrible conditions, the Lord will provide the strength to endure. I am amazed at the things being accomplished in the name of the Lord in spite of persecution.

As always, Wade, thank you for a most thought-provoking post. :)

Wade Burleson said...

Good point, Victorious. I meant "spend more than the money I have." The issue is shopping debt, and I think the principles of Scripture speak clearly to that issue, but not the one you mention.

Christiane said...

The people of Israel longed for a Davidic king to come and restore the glory of Israel.

So it can be noted that in a strangely ironic way,the very first evangelist to proclaim the return of the King was, of all people, Pontius Pilate, who unwittingly ordered the announcement written in three languages and posted on the Cross.

Garen Martens said...

I just finished "Killing Jesus" by Bill O'Reilly. While reading of the conversation between Jesus and Pilate, I too wished I could have been there to observe Pilate. He was in a tight spot between Rome, his career, and the Jews. Jesus didn't offer any wiggle room either.

Jesus' statements of "My kingdom is not of this world" certainly temper my reactions to the ills of the world. I'm so happy that we have more to look forward to than the crazed society of THIS world.